Schmuck of the Week

24-Hour Fitness settles lawsuit by enticing people into joining 24-Hour Fitness

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.

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.

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Joe Tone
Contact: Joe Tone