Greenpoint resident Kristopher Kasper estimates he has spent about twenty hours trying to cancel his Crunch Fitness membership over the past few months. “It felt like people were intentionally misleading me, that I was being cheated,” he said.
Gym memberships are notoriously difficult to cancel, but the pandemic has brought on an additional set of complications and stress for both customers and fitness centers.
Town Sports International, the parent company of New York City Sports Club, was sued by the New York Attorney General’s office for charging customers even while the gyms were shut down, in September multiple locations of the New York Sports Club permanently closed and the company filed for bankruptcy. “Time and again, these gyms have illegally sought to lift up their precarious financial state at their members’ expenses, even though many of these very members were simultaneously being crushed under the weight of financial hardships,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James according to a press release.
At the beginning of the pandemic Crunch Fitness emailed New York, New Jersey and Connecticut customers saying, “Crunch locations in these states will be closed until further notice. We are freezing your membership for the interim while we are closed,” according to emails obtained by Greenpointers.
Once Cuomo announced that gyms would reopen in in New York at the end of August, things got complicated for Crunch customers like Kasper who did not feel comfortable going into the gym. According to the Crunch Fitness website, customers can cancel their account by writing an email or sending a letter to their Crunch location, but many have found the process to be far more complex.
Kaspar said he repeatedly called the Greenpoint Crunch to cancel his account and was told multiple times that his account could only be cancelled by a manager, who was not in that day, “They would say, the manager is the only one who can do that and they’re not here.” Kasper said he left six or seven messages for the manager and never heard back.
Just last week, after months of back and forth, Kasper called the Greenpoint location and was finally able to officially cancel his account, but still has an unexplained charge on his account collecting late fees. “I still am not a hundred percent closed with this,” he said.
Greenpointers spoke to several other Crunch Greenpoint members who struggled to cancel their memberships and were told conflicting information from Crunch billing department and the Greenpoint Crunch team.
Cara Faris, an e-commerce professional, is still not sure if her Crunch memberships is cancelled. After attempting multiple times to cancel her account, Faris was eventually told the only way she could cancel her account was to stop by Crunch in person, something she did not feel comfortable doing in the pandemic. Last Sunday, Faris went in person anyway to the Greenpoint location of Crunch to cancel her account. The person behind the front desk was unable to give her any email or paper confirmation of her account cancellation, but assured her that her account was cancelled. “Fingers crossed that nothing will creep up in February,” she said.
Brigitte Hradsky, another Greenpoint resident, continued to be charged after emailing and communicating directly with Greenpoint Crunch staff members requesting to cancel her account. Eventually, Hradsky was able to cancel her account by direct messaging Crunch Fitness on Instagram. After doing so, her account was officially canceled and she received a check with a refund in the mail. “My issue was much more with the actual Greenpoint location not knowing how to handle the situation,” she said.
More experiences like these are detailed on an Instagram account called @cancelcrunchfitness is for, “Greenpoint Locals who want their membership canceled,” according to their bio. The account has posted emails and Yelp review from customers who are unable to cancel their Crunch memberships or are continuing to be charged after canceling their membership. The posts detail the complicated steps customers were asked to take in order to cancel their accounts.
“After a number of emails were not responded to and phone call where they directed me back to the emails, I ended up going in person to cancel even though the rep on the phone said not to,” reads one post. “At the end of the day, looks like Crunch is, without consent, authorization, or even a phone call or email, is enrolling customers into new commitments,” another post reads.
Regarding this situation, A Crunch spokesperson said over email: “Our member services teams have been working diligently over the past few months to get all of our members situated with the type of membership they would like moving forward through this pandemic. No member has been denied a cancellation or purposely ignored, we are just dealing with high volume requests. Due to COVID, we are working with a reduced and remote member services staff who are processing these requests. We froze all memberships during the period we were mandated to shut down and did not bill members. We have and continue to refund members who may have been billed in the period we were processing their cancellations. Any member who wishes to discuss their membership options should contact their home gym directly for more information.”