Every week we introduce you to a new shmuck. This week: 24-Hour Fitness.
I've noted my hatred for gyms before. But this week, 24-Hour Fitness cemented itself as one of the world's douchiest operations, their admirable commitment to wellness aside.
Here's the story: As anyone who's joined a 24-Hour knows, they have a murder-inspiring policy that basically allows them to continue charging your credit card for weeks after you (inevitably) quit the gym, because, you know, you're more an "activity person" than a "gym person." I'm not sure how it works, I just know that I've tried to fight it before, only to realize that it's exactly what I signed up for in the first place.
But one pissed off gym-quitter fought back.
According to a class-action settlement notice received by me and everyone I know, someone named Daniel Friedman recently sued the gym franchise over this policy, claiming it violated state and federal law.
I have no idea if it actually does violate the law -- I sort of doubt it, since the policy is right there in the contract -- but I'm more amused by the way 24-Hour decided to settle the case. Basically, they're using the suit as a way to entice old customers to come back to the gym, by offering -- for all members of the class-action suit -- three months access to their neighborhood 24-Hour.
Let me repeat: For the thousands of former members who "sued" 24-Hour over their cancellation policy, the lawyers "representing" those former members and the court overseeing the case allowed 24-Hour to offer, as part as a settlement, the opportunity to rejoin the club and be subject to whatever other devilish cancellation policy the club implements to replace the one thrown out by the suit.
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Or they can get $20 -- about 10 percent of the value of the three-month membership -- and buy themselves a ten-pack of Hostess products. I'll take the $20, thanks.
The American justice system, ladies and gentlemen. Its weirdness knows no boundaries.
Meet more shmucks in our Shmuck of the Week archive.