Most of the Curves for Women comments and emails we receive are requests for guidance and/or complaints from struggling Curves franchisees. However, we do receive complaints about Curve franchisees. The most common complaint regards the unauthorized billing of membership fees from ex-members.
Curves ex-member still billed 5 years later
Several different scenarios have prompted these complaints. One of the strangest was the recent report in the Chicago Tribune of a member who was billed $117 by the Curves club in Park Ridge, IL 5 years after she had cancelled her membership. The franchise owner, Michelle Aviles, claimed “the $117 was withdrawn from Bichkoff’s bank account after Curves for Women changed its accounting system in July. Due to a glitch in the process, some former members were accidentally charged.”
The franchise owner apologized and promised a refund. Months passed. The member never heard from her, nor received the refund. The ex-member drove to the club only to find it shuttered. She called Curves International, which was no help. She only got action after getting the Tribune’s Consumer Watch columnist (The Problem Solver) involved. She’s still waiting for the check.
The franchise owner seemed contrite about the supposed “mix-up,” but why did they even have this ex-members credit card information on file after 5 years? Was this really an honest mistake? How many others were “accidentally” billed right before the club closed? Have they received refunds?
Complaints about billing before a club closure
Member complaints have also been lodged by those who claim that they were charged for membership fees shortly before a Curves club closed. Members feel bad that the club closed, but protest that that’s not their problem. Curves franchise owners are entrusted with their private billing information. Some have asked: If owners abuse that trust and bill them for services they know will never be provided, isn’t that fraud? How can they complain about Curves International, they ask, when they are, in essence, stealing from their members?
Complaints about inflated memberships prior to selling a club
One of the most disturbing stories was from a franchisee who bought an established club from a Curves franchisee. The price was based on having an established base of paying customers. After the sale, the franchise buyer changed billing companies, which resulted in “Curves” showing up on credit card statements instead of a more generic company name used by the previous owner. Slews of outraged ex-members realized that they had been billed for membership dues long after they had terminated their memberships. The new owner not only claimed to be a victim of a fraudulent sale, but was maligned in the community for the unauthorized charges.
How many other credit cards of Curves ex-members are being charged each month? It makes you wonder.
Here’s the Question: How widespread is the practice of questionable or fraudulent billing by desperate Curves franchise owners?