A 32-year-old mother, Maria, has received numerous threatening emails from Lifestyle Health Clubs for owing them AUD$30. Legal team now involved.
Maria signed up for a one-year contract at Lifestyle Health Clubs, Redbank Plains, with her father back in 2016, in the interim she became pregnant and stopped going to the gym. However, Maria’s story is a harrowing one which no mother should endure.
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Maria went with her father to Lifestyle Health Clubs at Redbank Plains, Queensland, and signed up for a one-year contract. During her contract Maria was only able to attend the gym a few times a month because of her busy work schedule, yet she had every intention of getting the most of her contract… and she did.
But then in 2018 she broke her ankle and could not physically attend the gym any more so she went down to cancel her membership. She was told she’d have to pay a hefty cancellation fee albeit being on a month-to-month plan at the time since her contract had expired. She agreed to pay for the cancellation fee and never returned to the gym.
They wanted to charge her a cancellation fee even without a contract
However, unbeknown to Maria, the gym continued to charge her on a month-to-month bases and since the membership fee was automatically debited from her bank account she never missed a payment, let alone knew that she was still paying.
Then, only a few months later, a miracle happened. At a young age Maria was explicitly told by her doctor that she would never be able to conceive a child, but in the summer of 2018 she fell pregnant with her partner.
Having previously been told that she couldn’t carry a child Maria took extreme care to keep healthy and changed her diet to ensure there would be no complications with her pregnancy. But then something terrible happened.
While shopping with her mother one of the wheels jammed of a shopping trolley that a person in front of them was pushing on an escalator at Redbank shopping mall which caused a pile people to slam into each other. Maria was pushed hard against her trolley, hitting her stomach.
She needed to be rushed to the hospital for forced labour to save her child’s life. His little heart stopped beating during delivery and the doctors feared the worst. Maria was scared that her little miracle would be taken from her, but her son was successfully delivered… 2 months premature.
Due to the unfortunate circumstances of her labour her son was born with a hole in his heart and had to remain in NICU for three months. Maria wanted to spend every waking moment by her son’s side at the hospital which meant that she had to quit her job.
Understandably, the last thing on her mind was her bills, let alone the ongoing gym membership she was oblivious to — regardless — she kept paying.
Maria survived for a few months on her maternity leave pay but eventually her funds ran dry and a single payment of AUD$30-something failed.
Lifestyle Gym ruin her life over AUD$30
Again, being a mother of an ill special needs child, she didn’t have the time to go over her finances and to see whether she was still being charged for her expired gym membership… but she was.
She realised that she had paid approximately AUD$800 for her membership since it expired and had a single payment of AUD$30 declined. That thirty bucks had accrued extra charges, which, with late fees, was now closer to AUD$200. She called them and asked if it was possible be pardoned due to her circumstance.
Customer service reps at her local gym at Redbank Plains and administrators at the headquarters kept forwarding her to different departments. She kept trying for days until finally one of the operators promised that someone would get back to her. Nobody ever did. Instead she received a harsh email from a debt collection agency threatening to take her to court for her single missed payment.
Again she called explaining how she had no idea that she was a even member and that that she hadn’t been there for two years because she thought she cancelled her membership. She had also been waiting to hear back from them in regards to the outstanding debt, but they denied she ever contacted them. That’s when she provided phone logs, emails, and names of employees whom she had talked to which forced Lifestyle Health Clubs to respond and admit that Maria had been in touch and made multiple attempts to resolve this. Their response, “we tried to call you back, you didn’t answer. We forwarded this onto a collection agency so it is out of our hands now.”
Additionally, they warned her that failing to pay this debt could result in her having to file for bankruptcy and all her possessions being repossessed; a terrifying thought for anyone, let a lone a mother of an ill child who is struggling to get by.
Maria has had to find work at a service station doing graveyard shifts so that she can look after her child and pay her debts. All this over a AUD$30-something debt.
In a nutshell Lifestyle Health Clubs made the process of cancelling a membership so confusing and difficult. They lied about cancelling her membership in 2017 and continued to charge her account for another two years, deducting an extra AUD$800 out of her account over that period. And the second a single payment failed they smacked on hundreds dollars worth of late fees and sent it to a collection agency while trying to avoid any contact with Maria.
Maria never wanted to be refunded for the $800 they wrongfully deducted, all she asked was that they pardon that one missed payment because of her situation. They made her jump through hoops while secretly fast tracking her debt to a collection agency so they could make a little extra from her.
Are Lifestyle Health Club going bankrupt?
Maria had been a member of Lifestyle gym, Redbank Plains, for 3 years and had paid over $1200 in membership fees despite not attending the gym for 2 whole years. Regardless of failing to cancel her membership in 2017 they should still have considered her a loyal customer and forgiven the $30 dollar debt. But perhaps the gym is going out of business and are desperate for money and are willing to screw over customers to get it.
Or perhaps they just have really terrible service and people should think twice about signing up with them and trusting them with your bank account details. If they don’t care about a struggling mother with a sick child, they are certainly not going to care about you.
We’ve set up a GoFundMe for anyone willing to contribute a few dollars to help Maria with her unjustified debt and legal fees. If you’re in a Christmas spirit and a giving mood please consider donating.