Attempt to cancel gym membership turned violent, client says
An Ottawa man who tried to cancel his gym membership on the weekend said Tuesday his gym not only refused his request, but called security guards who then roughed him up.
Last week, a CBC investigation revealed that some Canadian fitness clubs may have collected hundreds of millions of dollars by continuing to debit the accounts of former members after they tried to cancel their memberships.
In an Ipsos-Reid poll for the CBC, 39 per cent of Canadian gym-goers reported problems with over-billing.
Computer programmer Christopher Probst has been trying to stop his membership at the Goodlife Gym in the Rideau Centre since August.
"I'm travelling all the time, so I don't really need it," he said.
A Goodlife manager wrote to Probst telling him he had to come in person to cancel his membership.
Probst is currently working in Portland, Oregon. But last weekend he was in Ottawa, so he went to the Rideau Centre to cancel his card.
But, he said, a staff member told him to go away and phone for an appointment. He said he told her he was on his way to the airport, and he continued to insist on canceling it then.
"She got up, and she said, 'Listen, I'm going to ask you to leave the gym, and I'm going to call security.' And, she said, I'm barring you from all Goodlifes across Canada, and I'm going to cancel your membership later,'" Probst said.
He said he wanted the contract cancelled immediately, and he was still waiting when two security guards arrived.
"They actually came screaming in my face, and I said to security, 'Is there a way we can discuss this civilly?' And they said, 'You need to leave now, I'm giving you two seconds.' And the next thing I know is that they're pummeling me, and I'm hearing, 'He's resisting arrest, he's resisting arrest," Probst said.
According to Probst, security guards handcuffed, and held him until police could take him into custody. However, the two police officers who arrived freed Probst, who was then able to catch his flight to Oregon. He said the officers also visited the gym to ensure that his membership finally was cancelled.
The Rideau Centre, which declined to comment on this incident, has banned Probst for five years. Goodlife didn't return calls.