CURVES: Robert Lay’s Story

The American dream of owning your own successful business seems to be going up in smoke for a lot of the Curves Franchise owners. The story you are about to read may seem like a Steven King horror novel but it is a real story that has happened to my wife and I. To all of the past, present and future owners of a Curves franchise please take the time to read the whole story as at the end we explain what we plan to do and how you as an ex or present owner may want to get involved.

My wife and I had owned and operated our own business for over 20 years and had been very successful at doing so. While we were making a great income from our business there was something missing in our life. Neither us felt that we were contributing to society but just taking and we decided to make a major change in our life. That was when we heard about Curves for Women. It was a new franchise that only had 300 or so clubs and for the first time in years we both became excited at the prospect of actually helping people reach their goals. We bought our first club in 1997 located in a city of thirty thousand. From the first day it opened it was more successful than our wildest dreams. Not only were we making excellent money but the personal rewards helping people better their lives was a truly rewarding feeling. I can still remember as if it was yesterday the first time a Dr. of one of our members came in to check out what we were doing as he couldn’t believe the changes his patient had gone through. She had gotten off her high blood medication and had lost over 40 pounds in 4 months. It was truly amazing and over the years we have seen it happen numerous times over and over.

We sold our first club in 2001 and bought two more franchises. My wife became a mentor for Curves International around this time and I was helping to sell franchise for Curves International as so many of are members wanted to own a club. It was at this time that we started to see problems arising with Curves International but we attributed it to the fast growth that Curves was going through. In 2002 we bought two more franchises but this time they were in what was called a metro-area instead of city under thirty thousand in population.

The first problem we encountered with Curves International was in early 2003. Curves sold a franchise that was a corridor of land between one of our franchise’s and the next city 8 miles from our southern boarder. It was obvious to us that the territory didn’t have the necessary population to support a facility and that Curves International was selling any location just out of greed and the fact that there were so many people who wanted a franchise. The people who bought that franchise tried to open up on our border but it had always been an unwritten but followed rule of Curves International that you open in the middle of your territory so that disputes between owners over stealing members from your territory didn’t arise. We immediately filed a complaint with Curves International and they stopped the new owner from opening at that location. Unfortunately for the new owners there were no other commercial locations between the two cities so they were forced into selling that franchise back to Curves International for a loss.

It was also at this time that Curves International started to change personnel. The employee’s who we had a personal relationship with that had started Curves International with Gary Heavin were leaving the company at an alarming rate. Seven employees that were the top management of Curves left or were forced out because of Gary Heavin’s greed. They ended up filling a law suit against Curves which was later settled out of court. It was at this time that Diane Heavin became involved with Curves and a whole new history was being written about how Curves was started. The original Curves member guide which was written by Gary Heavin and June Manley was taken off the market and the new Curves book authored by of course Gary Heavin was on the top 10 of the Times best seller list.. To make sure it was on the Times best seller list all the clubs had to order at least on case. That is when we as owners realized Heavin was a manipulator and not the born again Christian he portrayed to be. It was also at this time that the price to buy a franchise more than doubled in price. This came as quite a surprise as Heavin had always maintained that he would never ever increase his franchise price and he even swore on the bible in front of a group at club camp that he would never break his word on that. Well as we all know he didn’t keep that promise for long, which just shows his greed.




At this point my wife and I became quite concerned and even considered selling our business but other problems arose concerning Curves International that demanded our full attention. In 2004 another Curves location located on our boarder of one of our metro-areas hired two of our employees and stole around 15 members from our club. Both employees had signed the anti covenant not to compete and in our state those agreements are strictly enforced by the courts. We considered going to court but since it was another Curves facility we decided to file a complaint with Curves International. And to let them handle it. What a mistake that was as they did nothing. We transferred the members files but refused to transfer the money for the members dues until such time that Curves International responded to our complaint. We were told by the area director, which was a new position at Curves International, that we were trouble makers and he refused to send any of are clubs the members appreciation bags. Shortly thereafter Curves International resold the corridor of land that had been sold back to them at a loss from the previous owners and they allowed the new owners to open up in nearly the same location that they had refuse the previous owners only a year and a half before. The new owners advertised in our area and ended up getting 10 or 11 members to transfer to their club. Again we held their monthly dues but did transfer the members files. We immediately filed a complaint but again got the same response nothing. It didn’t take long for most of the members who transferred to come back to our club as the other location was small and in a very run down area and to this day that club has not shown a profit and has been sold numerous times over the years for little to nothing.

Then in 2005 the real problems with Curves International started that we are still contending with today. In one of our metro-areas a competitor by the name of Ladies Workout Express opened up right across the street from our location. Unknown to us they had hired our manager and one other employee from that location and when the employee’s left they had stolen off our computer our member files. They ended up stealing over two thirds of our membership with in a week. The employees had signed the covenant not to compete so we immediately hired a lawyer and prepared for a lawsuit. As I stated before in our state that agreement is strictly enforced but it took four months to get it into court. During this time that location was losing so much money that we decided to move the location next to our other territory so that both clubs could stay open. We sent in the required change of location form to Curves International but never heard anything back from them so we went ahead and relocated in late 05. The owners of the Ladies Workout Express eventually went broke because of the lawsuit and the fact that they would end up owing us monetary damages. They filed for bankruptcy to prevent us from collecting any monetary awards in Dec 05 but we did have the satisfaction knowing that we did what was right

In early 06 we were informed by Curves International that because we abandon that location they were terminating all of our franchise agreements. We immediately requested mediation for all of our clubs which is authorized by our franchise agreements with Curves International. We never heard back from them so we hired a lawyer in Waco, TX to represent us. He proceeded to send them a letter requesting the same mediation process and they did respond to him. They sent him letter stating that it was premature to go through the mediation process at that time as they were in the process of researching our reason for moving. Curves International continued to debit our account for the franchise and advertising fees for all the other clubs we owned but stopped talking the fees for the one territory that they stated we abandoned. The lawyer had us send Curves International a check for the fees and a new authorization form for them to deduct it from our account. Neither our lawyer or ourselves ever heard anything back from Curves International so we all assumed that things were back to normal.

In the spring of 07 we made the decision to start selling off all of our clubs and to completely retire. It didn’t take me long to sell the club we owned that wasn’t in a metro-area and I agreed to stay with the new owner’s to help train them how to run the business. We sent all the documentation into Curves International and the sale was completed by January 08. That freed my wife and I up to concentrate on our metro-area clubs and to get them ready for sale. In Feb of 08 we heard that a Curves club was opening in one of our territories within a mile of our current club. We could not understand how Curves International could do such a thing. We again filed a complaint by phone and e-mail to Curves International and several weeks later we were informed by e-mail that they didn’t know what we were talking about. We were told we didn’t own any franchises and hadn’t since we were terminated in 05. That came as quite a shock to my wife and I as our franchise and advertising fee’s had been deducted all along from our checking account and we had just recently sold a club that they were telling us we never owned. We had a local lawyer send a letter to the new owners explaining the situation and that we would be seeking legal recourse against Curves International and depending on the outcome they were opening themselves up to a potential lawsuit. During this time we had bought and paid in full for the Smart Equipment for Curves International and were waiting for the installation which was scheduled for the June 24th. On June 20th , a Friday we received a phone message telling us that the Curves Smart Installation was canceled and that we had to call Curves legal for an explanation. We left messages both e-mail and phone every 30 minutes on Monday June 23rd and finally late in the afternoon we received an e-mail stating that one of there lawyers would be in touch with us before the end of the day, They never sent an e-mail or a phone call as was promised but by mid day the next day they did respond by e-mail. It stated because of the problems with the members transfers, the fact that we abandoned a franchise, and that we had interfered with the opening of the new franchise located in our territory we weren’t approved for the Curves Smart. Yet in late May they had sent all the promotional ad material for the Curves Smart and of course we had gone to a considerable amount of expense for training the employees, advertising and promotion of the Curves Smart equipment. It was at this point that my wife and I decided that drastic action had to be taken against Heavin and Curves International.

While we still love the concept of Curves we feel that because of the deceptive and we believe fraudulent business practices that Heavin has allowed under his management Curves will eventually end up in the toilet so to speak. After spending many hours on the internet we have found that there are many lawsuits against this man and his company. Just read some of the post’s that are on franchisepick.com from owners concerning the new ten thousand fee if your club goes under and closes to the vitamins that were sold in Feb and March by Ideas in Action at a discount to owners without telling them that they would expire at the end of May. The lack of support and communication from Curves International that all of us owners are going through is intolerable. It is impossible for an owner to get through to them on the phone and good luck if you expect a call back in a timely manor. The fact that we as owners pay a lot of money for our advertising fees and have no accounting of where it is spent and a quite frankly we never see many ads in our area.

I have taken the time to do the necessary research to find several good lawyers who handle franchise law who are more than willing to help Curves owners who are having similar problems with Curves. I for one am going to go after Curves International and Gary Heavin in a court of law. These are not class action but group action lawsuit and if you don’t understand the difference contact me and I will explain it to you. There have been over 200 such lawsuit filed against Curves in the last several years and while some have been settled in mediation others are in the process of going to litigation. If you are a past or present Curves owner who has experienced these problems and want satisfaction whether it be monetary or revenge please contact me. We have several options that we can go and I for one am positive we will win as the other lawsuits have been successful so far and have set a precedent for ours. It is time for the owners of Curves franchises either past or present to stand up together and put a stop to Heavins’s ramped destruction of peoples lives just for monetary greed.

Thanks for reading our post and God Bless you all.

ARE YOU AN CURVES FRANCHISE OWNER OR FORMER CURVES FRANCHISEE? 
ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH THE CURVES FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITY? 
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1,365 thoughts on “CURVES: Robert Lay’s Story

  • May 30, 2012 at 7:20 pm
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    Andy,
    You are speaking of Japan that is a Master Franchise system with an average of 400 members per club. I believe they had larger memberships 24 months ago.
    They opened several years after US/Canada clubs opened and perhaps they will soon face a decline when their initial excitement wanes. It takes 350 to 400 members to sustain a healthy Curve environment and supply sufficient income for the owner. Average US clubs are/were 250 members. You can’t convince me or other owners that we need to stay positive, follow proven methods, etc. I have a club that, yes, are you ready? had 1135 members & now 327. Fortunately, I will be able to last until the end of my 10 year agreement. Only because of the closures of 40 surrounding clubs. I have said for the last 5 years, that we cannont depend on surrounding closures to continually save our locations. I have always followed all programs. I AM A REALIST. Gary H. has said over and over again: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expect differerent results is the definition of insanity.”

  • May 30, 2012 at 9:32 pm
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    I hear what you are saying, but like any business it will go through the bell curve. We started off slow and gradual, then in 03 we took flight and hit a peak when competition started to move in. Revenues started going down because of the increase in competition. Then in 08 memberships started going back up. We were up 10% at the time of the fallout in the US. Then we started to go down. In Ontario we then got hit by the HST being put on fitness memberships.All I am saying, is you cannot blame the franchiser for issues posted here. There are always 2 sides to a story. If this was any other franchise system and you wanted to close. Good Luck. I saw that first hand before when I was part of another franchise. I was forced into personal bankruptcy because they wanted me to pay royalties and adfunds for the full term of the agreement. No exceptions. Good luck to all.

  • May 31, 2012 at 5:25 am
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    Andy,

    Of course there are many factors which contribute to the closure of clubs. However, when a franchisor has experienced a closure rate of 70% in North the USA they should not charging closing fees and threatening legal action for future royalties. At that point, does an executive not realize that the current strategy is not working. 6000 franchisees in USA did not close their club because of their neglect or poor business practise. These are mostly hard working dedicated people with money on the line. The economy was a small factor but most of it was that the Curves concept is successful primarily in large centeres where you have enough people to cycle through continually. I suspect that most small town have closed or the owner is not making money. Women get tired of the program, That is the reality of the situation.

    As an executive I would be reformulating my strategy. My fear however is that GH’s strategy is “milking” the system. Go from country to country selling franchises and leave crurmbling franchisees in his wake. Of course Japan is doing well they have the people to cycle through.

  • May 31, 2012 at 6:55 am
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    Oh Andy…
    I find you comments quite silly. Want to know why? Because the bottom line with C.I. is the delivery of each change they want to give us. They lied about Curves Smart, they never invented it. I saw the program 2 years before Curves slapped their name on it. Did you know that the program is over 60% cheaper without Curves each month? They lied about that too…Each Club pays for using the name, not C.I. They want more money for themselves so they have a software program that they can charge for every month. in Canada, most had already changed over the Computease..no monthly fee and a separation of the taxes. In OS, the separation of taxes still charges tax on tax, a violation in Canada. Same with our privacy laws..most Clubs entered all info about their members without written permission from each Member. Even the base info of the program asks for a birthdate, you cannot skip this info. A member has a right to not share that info with anyone. C.I., made a promise to start a New Diet program, um, the 4th change for me. This was suppose to be on the air/advertised over a year ago. Never happened, still has not happened.
    This issue for me is trust. C.I. never give you all the information. How can I make a deceison without knowing all I need to know. I do not trust C.I.
    I love the new Diet program. Know why? Because it gives me permission to have a new price point. I do not have OS, but I can follow the program with the new price point with the Book. More money for me. Curves complete with the products give C.I. more money, not me. The products and clothes we have should be about 40% cheaper on our end. we should be able to have a 60-70% mark-up on any products we sell, and at a reasonable price. that is standard in any clothing/product industry. instead, we sell for C.I. to make money, not us.
    Curves Shakes are 139.00 per case plus shipping of 30.00. terrible.
    Businesses are failing because most owners do not have any Fitness Certification, no Business experience, and most are now forced into their Clubs because there is no money to pay for staff. Curves has a great business model that takes the guess work out of running your Business. The advertising flyers and models suck. The pictures take up half the page. Ugly as hell. No zest what so ever. Even the Zumba Circuit Cards are horrible and ugly. Do you really want to use those as promotions for your Club? I use the Zumba Cards from Zumba.com because they are zesty, fun, and full of colour. Did I mention my business cards and advertising on the Zumba site is about 75% cheaper then with Curves?
    Curves needs to push more Certification..not the bubble gum courses they now offer. Most owners are not PTC. FIC, or ACE certified. How can you stay in Business with any real Certications to back up your Club or mouth?
    If you are not taking courses every 6-12 months with the rest of the industry, you will fail. Money comes in much easier when you have the paperwork behind you.
    So, I will continue to go along my merry way and wait until I see actual progress in the OS or Curves Complete Program and sign up for them at the end of my agreement when everything will be completly free, just to get me to sign up for another 5 years.
    In the meantime Club Owners, do not worry about C.I. Worry about your Clubs. Take apart those machines every 3 months, change the order of the equipment, and change the hydralics to different machines to give your members a change.
    Ensure that you staff are all Certifed in the least, with C.I.
    Make sure Staff all have uniforms, and the same jackets at the same time of the year. Make sure every staff Member has their hair pulled back…work is not a place to show off. I use the light purple in the spring/summer, then we change to the dark grey in the fall. Wipe off the running boards x4 a day with a slight damp cloth..do not ‘sweep’ the boards..the Members get grossed out at seeing you pushing the hair onto the floor. If any of your equipment has any slight tears..CHANGE IT! If your frames are beyond painting or over 10 years old..buy a new set, or gently used from another Club that has closed down. Get rid of the covers on the back of your machines..no one wants to put their head on something that has hair or dandruff on it. Follow the Curves model for scripts to the word.
    Get your group Fitness Certification and go to some actual fitness conferences. Re-certify every year. Do something for your Community every day..EVERY DAY. Whether it be promoting Animal Rescues, or local Shelters. Be the ‘place’ for the community to drop things off that you can take yourself to where it needs to go.
    Success will be determined by how your Club looks and how you as an Owner working in the club. Curves will leave you alone as long as you are making money and following the franchise agreement that you have.
    If you do not want to ‘buy’ into anything like OS or Curves Complete, then don’t. But you will have to when your agreement is up.
    Gary is in the process of selling Curves with the condition of 80% being on OS and Complete by the fall the the sale of Curves to go thu with Newcastle. If he really wants to sell Curves…it will be even cheaper to purchase the programs by this fall. The focus of the Area Directors has completly changed for the next few months. The focus is now to get everyone on board by the fall..everything else is on hold…

  • May 31, 2012 at 7:01 am
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    ps. Andy..
    I have the highest sales ratio for the Curves Diet then the Complete Certifed Clubs in my area. I charge 299.00 for the Club and Diet..no products, no online Diet. The member works one on one with the book and a staff member. And the profit is 100% minus the 5% charge of royality on my new sales. I also have the largest membership and I am the only Club that has shown growth over the last 2 years.

  • May 31, 2012 at 8:08 am
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    Heidi – I am speaking of the merger of Curves with New Castle. I am hearing from my director that there will be some changes to improve marketing for everyone. We should see more advertisement. I would suggest to wait and see. The plans are to turn things around. Why would a large corporation want to invest in a failing franchise? What is your take on this? On a positive note, Maybe there is a rainbow at the end of the tunnel.

  • May 31, 2012 at 8:27 am
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    Merger? You need to investigate New Castle…they may be calling it a ‘merger’ right now..but New Castle purchases failing Franchises and works on them, fix the issues, and then they sell them. This is no merger..its a sale. This Franchise is failing because of the person at the helm…no other reason then that. New Castle knows this and sees Curves as a profitable. So do we all..but we need the right person at the top..

  • May 31, 2012 at 8:32 am
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    Wow! Now I know that Curves is really relying on the stupidity of some owners if they truly think in the same lines as the person above the commented two lines above:

    “Why would a large corporation want to invest in a failing franchise? ”

    Holy! Can some Owners be that dumb and not do their homework on the Company that is about to take over?

  • May 31, 2012 at 8:59 am
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    Yes they can. The issue is NOT Ci it is the franchisees doing what they want. Well I guess ti is CI for being so nice and letting them get away with it. If WE the franchisees bought into Curves Complete at the start, We the franchisees would have seen results this past January. Yet we the franchisees did not and those that did are suffering because of those that did not.
    And it is not a merger it is a new partnership. Do you homework. Plus why would any company buy a piece of a company if they did not do their homework. Newcastle did their homework 10 fold.
    Get your facts straight before posting lies .
    I have to say I have NEVER seen so many negative people in my life. I only just found this board because someone told me about it. Get on with life people.
    No more posts for me. This is a negative energy draw.

  • May 31, 2012 at 9:42 am
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    Andy writes: “You think McDonald’s would help you out. Yes by taking your store away for non compliance.”

    Andy, you are wrong. McDonald’s is a legitimate franchise. They make their money by helping franchisees succeed. I bet you can hum the McDonald’s jingle, and recite the last few taglines. You know why? McDonald’s ADVERTISES. You can’t turn on the TV without their ads enticing you to go to a franchisee’s location. When was the last time you saw a TV commercial from Curves corporate? How about never? McD’s and Curves both collect ad fees, why does only 1 advertise?

    McDonalds is a great example. They are constantly testing new ideas for raising franchisee revenue. Think about the last few years. Dollar menu. Promotion of coffee. Smoothies, lattes and more. In years past they listened to franchisee ideas and added breakfast, fish sandwich, Happy Meals, Ronald McDonald. All franchisee ideas. In the same time frame, Curves has failed to adapt or change or innovate or listen to franchisees. That’s why McD’s continues to thrive and grow and Curves has closed more than half of its locations.

    me says “Why would a large corporation want to invest in a failing franchise? ”

    It wouldn’t, and that’s why they are not buying a Curves franchise, they are buying a franchisor who turns a profit even when its franchisees fail. Think about what a great business Heavin has. If 3000 Curves clubs close he can sic his attack dogs on them to squeeze every last dollar out of them and meanwhile he has 3000 territories he can resell to new suckers again and again.

    If you’ve got no heart and no conscience, CI (not a franchise) is a phenomenal business to invest in. Plus, you’ll always have people like Andy to to blame this big Ponzi scheme on the Curves franchisees, who obviously are lazy, radical and indifferent to the loss of their family’s finances.

    Andy please explain that to everyone how Bernard Madoff’s investors have themselves to blame because they didn’t follow his investment advice carefully enough.

  • May 31, 2012 at 10:04 am
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    Andy:
    Newcastle has one partnership right now. One. The rest are partnerships that had been taken over completly by NewCastle. That is what they do. Takeover and possibly re-sell down the road.
    I do agree that some Franchise Owners lost out because they bought in before any true statistics were given on the new program. I feel for them, I really do.
    I am happy and feel I made the right choice in waiting on the program until it has more of the issues taken out.
    You best have all your signed privacy forms filled out and on file in Canada on your Members, because change is coming. The Canadian Privacy Commissioner is investigating Curves Club owners and doing checks on files to see whether you have those forms signed off by every Member you entered into OS.
    I will wait unitl the Investigation is complete before I change over to Curves OS. Ontario is the first Province to have Investigators coming to Clubs and asking to see signed consent forms on every Member. If some club Owners actually stayed on top of their education and privacy laws, this would not have happened.
    Andy, you are on the wrong site. This is a Bitch site and maybe we can learn a thing or two.
    I love making money and keeping it for myself..you keep sharing your profits…I am happy with My Clubs, their progress, and profits.
    I do see your point, and I understand where you are coming from. I do follow all the rules and keep strict tight Clubs. I just do not ‘buy’ into the programs as soon as they come out.

  • June 12, 2012 at 9:50 pm
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    Curves new partner is North Castle (not Newcastle). They presented at our Spring Training session this year. After hearing them in person I’ve listened to it several times since. It’s not exactly earth shattering observations. Frankly, I could have saved them the cost of the survey and Gary’s ‘colonoscopy’ and told them all of this.
    1. Everyone knows Curves.
    2. Women who still belong to Curves love it.
    3. Women who don’t belong anymore think it’s boring and “it doesn’t work” – whatever that means.
    4. Owners are passionate about their business and feel strongly about the fact they aren’t making a profit. Lack of advertising and lack of strong leadership are problems that owners have identified.
    5. Curves International (GH) believes the problem is that no one will follow his good advice and too many owners are doing things their own way, not following Curves systems.
    6. North Castle believes we need to all be on the same page with Operating System and Curves Complete and move as one synchronized team to future profitability.
    7. North Castle and GH believe that there is a direct connection between the BMI of owners and staff and failing clubs. (Why did they sell clubs to women of a certain BMI? Why are so many of the Area Directors overweight? And I don’t mean to be rude and I honestly don’t care, but many of Gary & Diane Heavin’s family members are in the obese BMI range. Walk the Walk? What about the unhealthy lifestyles of their own family? I don’t judge them or care but it’s a fact.)

    Moving on: I’d like to see the actual data from North Castle’s survey of members.
    I know from personal experience that MANY MANY of the anti-Curves meanies say things in the community like, “Curves didn’t work for me.” But when we look at their workout history it’s spotty at best. Neither did they follow our diet advice. But I believe, few of those women will look in the mirror and admit they never gave us a chance. Not even on an official survey.

    Also, NC thinks they are going to save the company by giving women what they want: results. But that’s not why members who are passionate about Curves stay members. The ones who are members and LOVE it say the reason is: the workout, it’s all women, and the friendly helpful staff. The ones who left also cited boredom. Well a personal diet coach isn’t going to eliminate boredom. So are NC and GH barking up the wrong tree? heading down the wrong path? I think so.

    Women have hundreds of diet choices. If women wanted weekly coaching there would be 1500 Jenny Craigs in the USA instead of 300. The fact is, small boutique weight loss clinics are not what women want. NC and GH also like to pick on WW’s as being a diet that makes women lose fat and muscle while Curves Complete causes women to lose fat and gain muscle. But they ignore the fact that so many of our members are doing WW’s AND working out at Curves. So wouldn’t that mean that those members are gaining muscle too?

    (On a side note: NC didn’t mention anything about the politics of GH which unfortunately factored into some women’s rejection of Curves.)

    NC and GH are planning to homogenize all the Curves – bring them all into alignment as cookie cutter weight loss salons. Serious advertising will only commence if they get enough locations participating in Curves Complete. Half of the remaining 3000 US Curves will probably be closing. Those are the ones that NC accused of not ‘participating’ in Curves programs. I know many of the ones that ARE participating and they aren’t doing well. But GH and NC can make that claim because they don’t back it up with reports, data, or facts.

    Always, owners are asked to take everything CI says as truth. Recently NC and CI launched Million Guest Pass National Curves Day. CI announced it was a “great success”. What does that mean? Were 1 million guest passes distributed and redeemed? What did “success” mean to them?

    My best guess is that any owners who haven’t already jumped in to Curves mandated OS, Zoomba, Complete, and SMART – won’t be following Curves anywhere. My guess is they will slip away as soon as their contracts end. People who overpaid for their Curves never made a profit and just want it to be over. Many of those people wouldn’t feel right about dumping their failing business on an unsuspecting soul. Some of them, if they can find a buyer, will sell and breathe a sigh of relief. If only 1000 Curves remain in the USA it’s still more than Jenny Craig (but less than SNAP fitness.)

    I hope NC is able to revive Curves. Although, the timeline was that they would be working on some kind of blueprint for the future this summer and if things go according to plan they would launch the blueprint sometime in 2013. For way too many owners that will be way too little way too late. Unless they launch a MAJOR TV commercial effort it will just fall flat. And CI can’t keep going back to the army of passionate owners who love their business and their members and ask them to give and give and give of their time and money while the leadership doesn’t sacrifice anything.

  • June 13, 2012 at 10:31 am
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    Well said Penny!
    I think some Owners need to take up some responsibility themselves!
    CI should lower the prices on products, and the website should have a small yearly fee (150.00?).
    most owners would be more positive if they were able to get lower costs on re-sale items…they should have a 110% mark-up value.
    CI needs to have their AD’s visit each Club 2-4 times a year…..if they want consistantsy…they will have to babysit for awhile…

  • June 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm
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    I agree. CI has focused too long on the weight management classes. Taking on WW was a big mistake. They would have been better off forming a partnership like Zumba. Retail products are’nt well made and do not appeal to the majority of the members. Most of our members are age 60 plus and are not interested in low cut form fitting tops or hiphugging bottoms.They love the workout I have members who have been with the club since we opened in 2002, that says a lot. Even at the height of Curves we could not fill weight classes, supplements were to expensive and very few liked the shakes. I believe in the basics of Curves but we have gotten SO far away from that especially with the Smart upgrade.(also very expensive) We would like to sell rather than close but it’s hard to say what will happen Curves is not the same as it was 10 years ago.

  • June 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm
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    here’s a good one for you…THIS is how much the struggling clubs mean to CI. i sent an email to my AD last friday (6 days ago) and informed her that my landlord is evicting me due to past due rent. i needed to find out how to go about beginning the closing process of my club because i don’t have money to move to a new location. i am behind on all of my bills (business and personal) and have no other choice but to close before my debt gets worse. here we are 6 days later and i haven’t heard anything from her!!!! they already don’t support the clubs that are struggling and it’s only going to get worse. i don’t have the money to be CC certified, nor do my members have the money to pay for program. i also don’t have curves smart because of the cost. i have followed their way when i was able to afford it but all they want is more money and still don’t help. thanks for all your support gary! maybe you need to start going to a different church because my idea of being a good christian not watching people suffer for your own personal gain!

  • June 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm
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    Thank you to all the posts here! Everyone, in one way or another, has expressed a frustration of mine over the last year and a half of owning. I, too, have a club that has ALL of the CI must-haves: OS, Smart, the Stretcher, Curves Complete, Zumba – and little results to show for it. I think Penny hit the nail on the head with her comments regarding CI’s “great success” with the Million Membership giveaway – how is success defined by them?

    And for those who want to close their clubs before the end of their agreements (I am one of them – finances get tighter and tighter, and I feel I’m pretty frugal on my expenses, cutting back on everything I can), why does CI feel the need to demand more $ out of the owners? If projection sheets and financials are suppose to be submitted, why are they turning a blind eye to the fact there is no money being made thus no money left to collect?

    And I think if CI wants clubs to all be on the same page, they need to get rid of the franchiser/franchisee relationship and incorporate (I think that’s the term). This way they can have all the control – in location, rent, training of staff, etc. I think this is the only way CI is going to survive.

  • Pingback: CURVES: The Rise & Painful Fall of the Curves Franchise Chain : Unhappy Franchisee

  • June 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm
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    I closed my club a year ago after 8 years, obviously before the 10 year contract was up. I have felt all the same frustrations as all of you have expressed. I don’t know where my advertising dollars went, but without strong advertising and perhaps a celebrity endorsement (think Jenny Craig) Curves International signed it’s own death certificate. There’s no doubt that the bad economy played a role, but CI didn’t navigate it well and as far as I can see have now become more focused on getting every penny out of their “failures” rather than helping their struggling clubs to succeed. It’s sad, because I loved the original concept and loved the workout, and most of all I loved all the terrific members.

    In any case, by the time I closed I had been PAYING monthly to keep the club going and was working opening and closing shifts every day just trying to turn the whole thing around. With all the debt I invested to try to save the sinking ship I decided that CI wasn’t going to get another penny out of me. My contract (an older one) didn’t say anything about paying a closing fee or about paying the monthly fees when the club was closed. They tried hard to threaten me into making a huge payment to them, they tried to get my equipment (including the Smart Equipment, which I purchased outright from Mytrak and they had absolutely NO RIGHT to), they even wanted all my members contact info. NO WAY. I held strong, didn’t sign a thing, told them my bottom line was they would never see another penny from me, closed the club and went on with my life.

    Life is great now! There is life after Curves, people. I miss the ladies, I miss the workout, but I’ve never been happier. At least now I’m not continuing to go into debt every month!

    Best of luck to all of you. I feel your pain! Just please stay strong when dealing with CI, they are bullies and bullies should never get their own way. Fight the fight! They are on their way out, how much longer can they keep going without franchises to support their wages?

  • June 21, 2012 at 8:37 am
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    I am at cross roads. My agreement with Curves will end 9/12. Since I purchsed resold franchise I lost money. One reason, Curves had set up very aggressively two Curves Franchises near mine and they were owned by the same person who could control my price realization unfavorably.

    I came to know that the two franchises are no more Curves since one or two years but continue to have Curves equipment and compete with me without paying royalty or adv. fees.

    I wrote to Gary H asking that my agreement should be extended on mo- to mo basis until competition is resolved and until it is, my fees should be waived. He replied after one month that he is too busy. Until now I really thought that he must be, but after reading all your emails and comments, I suspect that my contract will expire and he will do nothing and I will be stuck with my leaseand disappoint my members. I am looking for a solution from the dilemma.

    Since I have lost money, like everyone else I want to recover something. I am not able to sell the club as is (negative cash flow). I am hoping that my staff can bring it up.

  • June 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm
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    Sadly, I had to close my club early last year.

    I took my contract to a lawyer and he basically told me that it would be very difficult to fight because if it went to court, the case would have to be heard in the state of Texas (which would mean engaging a Texan lawyer unless your lawyer knows Texas law). After months of agonizing over what to do I decided that the only logical thing was to cooperate with CI.

    It was a difficult decision because I love the concept of Curves and cannot stand CI’s bullying tactics. I ended up having to destroy my equipment because no-one wanted it. I also had to remove all the cylinders from the machines and ship them back to CI at my expense. I also paid a $1000 closing fee.

    It was a very traumatic time but my advice to anyone who is trying to get around their contract is don’t waste your time. I felt it was better to get out from under the financial and emotional burdens. I did not want to go through the stress of worrying about possibly receiving a letter from an attorney down the line suing me for breach of contract.

    I know this is hard to understand when you’re going through this but I’ve been there and I can tell you that there is life outside of Curves. I still really miss it but am in regular contact with a lot of my members. Also, don’t worry too much about your members – much as they love Curves trust me, they will find another gym.

  • June 26, 2012 at 10:19 am
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    While I agree with GC that if you have it specifically stated in your contract that you will owe a closing fee then there’s no point in trying to get around that, although there’s no harm in trying to negotiate that with CI in hopes of bringing the cost down. However, there are a lot of things they try to get you to do when closing the club that are NOT in the original contract you signed. PLEASE BE VERY WARY BEFORE YOU SIGN ANYTHING THEY SEND YOU! The forms they sent me when I told them I was closing would have forced me to agree to all of their current and future demands, no matter what they were. And they were demands that WERE NOT in my original contract. Once I signed that my hands would have been totally tied. That’s why I didn’t sign. I did not agree to destroying my machinery or giving it to charity, I did not agree to giving them my Curves Smart equipment when they had absolutely no right to it (how in the world they thought they could have that when I bought it outright from Mytrak I don’t know, it’s pure greed and cockiness, really!).

    But let’s think about this logically people. While I’m not advocating that you go against something that you specifically agreed to when you signed your contract, they are trying, out of pure desperation, to get every penny they can out of you SO THAT THEY CAN SURVIVE! They are in very DESPERATE TIMES! A company that is hurting as much as they are and has so many thousands of clubs closing to deal with simply cannot sue everybody. They are going to cut their losses when they are smaller losses and go after the BIG ones, the people who have no legal leg to stand on, or the people who closed multiple clubs with years left on the contracts.

    So my advice is: 1. DON’T agree to anything that was not in your original contract. 2. If you agreed in your original contract to paying a certain amount as a closing fee then at least try to negotiate it with CI. 3. DON”T let them bully you. 4. Spend that money that CI wants from you to pay back your members who did pre-pays, after all they paid you money in good faith and they deserve to be reimbursed. 5. Close your club, ignore CI’s bullying attempts to get more money out of you, change your phone numbers if you have to, and GO ON WITH YOUR LIFE! :)

  • August 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm
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    It’s official!  Gary & Diane Heavin have sold Curves to North Castle Partners.

    Read his announcement message to Curves franchisees.

    Please share a farewell message with Gary, below, and let him know what impact he has had on your life, your finances, your credit, and the well being of your family.

    CURVES: Say Goodbye to Gary Heavin!

  • August 30, 2012 at 2:32 am
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    We did not get an announcement message her in Australia. I did my own research and found out. We only got told that Curves, i.e Gary and Diane have another partner join Curves. What a LIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • September 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm
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    Well I closed my club at the end of June, 4 years peior to the end of my agreement. I did everything that CI wanted me to do in regards to closing. I did not give them my equipment or CS I figured that I paid good money for it so I will do what I want with it. I received a letter of demand for $64,000 to be paid withing 7 days (what a joke). I asked them to review this amount as I had no money, I then got another email telling me the figure was now $17,000, again I explained that I had no money and then a month later I got a letter delivered to my home signed by a person I have never heard of in the 6 years I have been dealing with Curves (must be from the new people who have taken over) telling me that I owe $64,000 again. I sent an email to this person and have not heard anything since, it has now been a month since I received that letter. I know that this will not be the last I hear from them but they will not be getting a red cent out of me. The restraints they put on you regarding getting rid of the equipment is ridiculous, there is no brand name on the equipment so what right do they have. If they want my CS they can pay me the $12,000 I paid for it. I will not let CI bully me into anything and I will help anyone else who is being bullied by them. They need to be stopped.

    In Australia we have gone from over 400 clubs in 2006 to 283 in 2012 with still many in the process of closing. I think that Curves has run its course over here and I would encourage any owner who has a profitable club to try and get rid of it before its too late. CI are putting to much emphasis on Curves Complete, I personally think it is a rip off. None of the members I had would have been able to afford the $199-$299.

    I am so stress less since closing my club BUT I do miss my incredible members everyday.

  • October 15, 2012 at 2:25 am
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    Reading these comments, I am in the same situation as hundreds of Curves owners and due to the exorbitant fees etc that Curves charge and restraints they set against improving the club how the local clientiel would like and the lack of forward thinking my clubs have sufferred immensely affecting my business to the extent that I cannot continue to operate.

    Through this I have lost my home, inheritance and other assets as well as creating debts beyond my control through demands of exorbitant fees and royalties from Curves. I am a solo mother with a three year old and this has caused a great deal of stress on us both.

    I would like to know if there is some way we can work on a united front to fight this? Is there anyone that would like to join forces to get some kind of resolutin and re-coup our losses?

    Please contact me through Unhappy Franchisee

  • January 23, 2013 at 12:22 pm
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    I am in the same boat. I bought into Curves 3 years ago, when everything was good, I had “GoFigure” as my software..they were great, btw! Now, my club has dwindled down, new clubs opening left and right. My club did not attend a meeting that was required due to many reasons, one of them being in December at Christmas. I was taken off the website as a “reprimand” or “penalty”, I have had no leads for over a month, this being January, prime season for dieting, they gave all my leads elsewhere. My area director is no help, whatsoever…can’t get questions answered, complied with all certifications we had to get for “Cleveland Clinic”, paid dearly for everything and still am. My account is going down drastically instead of up, before NORTHCASTLE came in. THEY ARE eating us up. I talked to a “said” President, of what, I don’t know…she threatened me that she would come after me with an army if I closed. I am in the process of going “LEGAL” on this w/my own lawyer. HOW do I get in touch with Robert Lay? If you are a Curves owner, you won’t be for long…..

  • January 23, 2013 at 1:12 pm
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    Pamela, you are not alone!!! I complied with the new brand standard demands, yet I am told that the secret shopper gave me low scores. So AD tells me that she wants to talk because she doesnt want me to be charged!!! I dont even know what my scores are, she wont tell me unless we talk and yet Im being threatened with charges. I shouldnt have scored really low to begin with so I dont know what that is about!! My holidays were ruined trying to meet their demands, spent money I didnt have and now Im told I failed and could be charged!!! NO WIN!!! I resent this and it blows my mind! I know of another owner who has hired an attorney to get out of her contract, its in process, waiting to see the end result. How dare they remove you off the site, if they are taking their royalty fees, they have no right to do that, down and dirty is their motto I guess!!!

  • February 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm
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    I need help with finding a lawyer. We are broke and tired and need to close our gym. Curves of course is threatening to sue us for the broken agreement. We need to know where we stand.

    Thank you for your help. We really need it.

  • March 4, 2013 at 10:57 pm
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    I just closed. Not what i wanted to have happen but can’t afford any more loses. I would have stuck it out the remaining 4 months but they would not let me. I knew I was closing so I did not certify my club. For what? just more money down the drain. We had one person (in 6 months) come in about buying but decided against it after seeing all the rules & fees. My landlord had another business in with in 4 days of me leaving. The person who had asked about buying club realized she could buy everything she needed from discount stores and craigslist for a fraction of what it would have cost to buy the club with fees and all. She is the new business in my old spot. Curves did a spot check and now thinks I am operating a club illegally and are threatening me. I have absoulutly nothing to do with this new place and told them to call the landlord or any of the utility comps as it is not mine. I want as far away from Curves as possible as fast as possible. I walk away with nothing while they got paid every month for 4 1/2 years. I feel THEY allowed people like me to buy in that should not have been allowed to – they need people from the health field not just someone like me who wanted to make sure my place to exercise stayed open. They are the only ones making money. I just hope they place a few calls and realize ITS NOT ME in there.

  • March 5, 2013 at 9:44 am
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    My club started to dwindle in 2008. I tried everyting I could to keep it going. Last year I was $2000-$5000 in red every month. I kept putting money into it sometimes by working at other jobs. The total amount I put last year into Curves was approximately $50,000. I worked really hard to get every staff certified on CC and got the club ready to launch Curves Complete in January. I seemed like all the effort I put in did not make any difference. So I decided to close the club down. I called CI to find out what the closing procedure is and CI told me that I had to get that information from AD. So I called my AD. She did not have specific guideline. So I closed the business down. Two weeks after I got a letter from CI saying that I abandoned the business and I owe them close to $25,000 in damage. Could anyone recommend what I need to do next?
    Thanks.

  • March 7, 2013 at 1:38 am
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    To Jane and Mira there is a very good lawyer in USA that a few ex owners are using. Hw used to work for CI. If you get in touch with the administrator for this website and ask for my email address I wil gladly give you his name and email address.

  • March 13, 2013 at 10:59 am
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    How do you get in touch with the administrator of the site? Its probably right there in plain site but I am so upset I am not seeing it. Thanks

  • March 13, 2013 at 11:55 am
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    You can email me at UnhappyFranchisee[at]gmail.com

    Thanks,

    ADMIN

  • March 14, 2013 at 3:14 am
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    Hi everyone I spoke to a lawyer who would review my case against CI, they said I have to pay a fee to review it to see if it is no-win no-pay case, if this is the case would anyone like to join me to fight back at them.
    At the end of Jan curves called Ezibedit and with one flick of the switch ezbedit cancelled all my members out of my system (3clubs) over 400 members gone. A payment was done on the tuesday nite and members gone on the wed morning. I wasnt told by anyone that this would happen not ezidebit or curves contacted me, this was all over the fact I couldnt pay 6000$ for each clubs royalities and advertising ( which there isnt any advertising) I borrowed money off a friend and got the good club back but they are forcing me to sell and I have 3 month to do it in, ( which we all know thats not going to happen) if I dont sell they will cut off my membership again.
    It took ezdebit 3 weeks to get back to me about what happened. Im now moving my members to edebit which are half the price of ezdebit and assure me that curves can get @$%^ if they try to bully them into cutting me off.
    The fact now owners is that curves has completely stepped over the mark and now controls the money. I have rent to pay and a mortgage and the rest which I couldnt pay as it took 2 weeks for ezidebit to give back my members only when curves gave them the ok.
    So if you are behind in your payments this is the new and improved curves way of getting its money. I have spoken to ezidebit and they are going to tackle curves about this complete underhanded way.
    2 clubs have closed and I had to close them in a week, as that was all the money I had left to pay the wages. curves told me to close in two weeks but not re-enstate ezidebit for those 2 clubs so where was I going to get the money from to pay 2 sets of wages!!!!!!!!!
    I cant sell my club fast enough and hopefully never hear from them again curves has destroyed my life

  • March 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm
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    Hi Sharen we need to find a lawyer that will take our cases on pro bono, I know that there must be a lawyer out there somewhere that will tackle CI on our behalf. It is downright bullying to the highest degree what they did to you what friggin right do they have to bully ezidebit into cancelling all of your members direct debits, is ezidebit now working for CI or on behalf of the clubs that use them. Come on all you disgruntled ex owners or owners who are on the verge of collapsing lets get together and take a stand against CI.

  • March 15, 2013 at 7:03 pm
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    I declared bankruptcy when I closed my club.. CI presented me with a bill stating I had abandoned my business ( they knew I was closing and what I was doing), and the bill was for over 48k.

    Even with that, I feel SO much better. All of the anxiety and stress is over, and life is returning to normal.

    I still love the workout. I still workout at another Curves..but when my business tanked, there wasnt any more I could do, but close. Sadly, money doesnt grow on trees.

  • April 3, 2013 at 8:31 pm
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    We are needing to close our Curves as we can no longer pay staff and I have to work all the hours myself. We have a 12 year old who shouldn’t be all alone all summer and membership is still dwindling. We have 3 years left on our contract. My question is can they still come after us for the $48,000 they say we will owe them if we close if we file bankruptcy? Can they file a lawsuit and win if we have already filed bankruptcy upon closing? We are trying to decide if we should somehow try to hang in there until Curves International implodes. Hopefully this year! Does anyone know how many clubs are actually still open in the US? When I google Curves closings it seems like quite a few come up and that many have even closed already this year or are in the process. Any info anyone has would be helpful!

    Thank you!

  • April 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm
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    Hi Dawn, I dont have any answers for you…I have the same questions you have regarding bankruptcy and curves fees etc. I am hoping that someone who has gone through this will be able to answer so that others like us will have some insight. I think that the only for sure thing is consulting with an attorney regarding bankruptcy and what curves can or cannot do. I am sorry that you are going through this, I know the terrible stress of it all! If you find out any answers would you please post for the rest of us, thank you!
    DOES ANYONE KNOW IF FILING BANKRUPTCY WILL PROTECT AGAINST CURVES FEES??
    PS I think there is less than half of the clubs still open, a huge percentage have closed and I hear of closings every week…also a ton are for sale, which havent sold!

  • April 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm
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    Dawn if you would like to get my email address from the admin of this site I will glady share what I know with you. I also worked the last 3 years on my own couldn’t afford wages, its tough. Bankruptcy is a last resort, you have it hanging over your head for many years, there are alternatives.

  • April 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm
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    Hi,
    The curves in my town is closing before her 3 year agreement is up. I know the owner and she thinks I can take over the location and get rid of all the curves equipment and put in my own cardio equipments and strength training machines and should still be able to retain members and also increase them.

    I’m seriously considering it but still not sure if this will work. My town has a anytime fitness center near a grocery store already and so that will be a big competition.

    I’m not sure if this will work, what do you former curves owner think?

    thanks.

  • April 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm
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    Mary I would do a survey of all the members the curves club has and ask them if they would still want to stay if you get rid of the curves equipment before you do anything. Be very careful.

  • April 16, 2013 at 8:11 pm
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    aussie,
    thanks for your reply, looks like not many read this board any more. Is there any board you recommend to get more answers?

    Thanks.

  • April 17, 2013 at 10:44 pm
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    Mary this is the only forum I know of and we have one for the Australian owners and ex owners. Sometimes there are a lot on here other times it will be slow. People only vent when they are near the verge of collapse.

  • April 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm
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    Curves franchisees and former franchisees:

    It’s really time to bring Curves’ closing practices out in the open and put a stop to the insensitive and unethical way Curves continues to treat its failed and failing franchisees.

    While there are not a lot of comments lately, make no mistake – this is not a “dead” thread… there are a tremendous number of franchisees reading every day as they search for answers and help… they just aren’t posting.

    I need to hear from you. I need to hear your stories – what you have gone through and what you are going through… What Curves demanded from you and what they settled for (if you’re already through the closing process) I would like to get copies of correspondence that they’ve sent you. I will keep it confidential and won’t post anything without your consent.

    If you can provide me with some current demands, especially from the current owners, I will reach out to franchisee attorneys and others in the hopes of getting some assistance pro bono or on contingency. I will also try to reach out to the company to get them to change the practices and policies toward those who believed and invested in their brand, and have lost enough already. I believe Curves & North Castle Partners will be better off taking a more enlightened approach, rather than face a national PR campaign and petition to stop their current tactics.

    Please send an email to UnhappyFranchisee[at]gmail.com if you wish to share your story, information, documents, or even if you just wish to receive our email updates (no spam). If you have items to mail, email me for the address.

    Thanks,

    ADMIN
    UnhappyFranchisee.com
    UnhappyFranchisee[at]gmail.com

  • April 21, 2013 at 7:15 pm
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    Well said Admin. I agree wholeheartedly.

  • April 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm
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    This is all very discouraging. Was just looking into purchasing a Curves. When I requested information my request was answered right away. I have sent several emails since then for add’l information but have yet to hear anything from them in over a month. Im thinking this is not such a good idea! I love the existing Curves in our small city and thought the city could benefit from another one. Their program is simple, quick and very effective. I have done very well over the past 4 months as a member but Im not going to take on a franchise that offers no support, no advertising and can’t keep their own house in order let alone help with mine. Wow! So disappointed! Good luck to you all!

  • May 1, 2013 at 9:08 am
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    Adrienne, First of all a “small city” will most likely not support an additional location. Secondly, you are right. Current experiences with CI indicate “one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing”. This info comes from my friends whom are still struggling with ownership.

  • May 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm
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    I, too, like the rest of you have a failing Curves business. I have 27 months left with my Fran. Agmt. I don’t think I’ll be able to last that long. I went to an attorney about my options and he said the only thing I could do was file business bankruptcy and then personal bankruptcy. Then Curves couldn’t come after me. My husband and myself have very good credit ratings and we don’t owe anyone so to file personal bankruptcy just doesn’t seem right.

    I would be interested in joining the group if this attorney you were talking about had different ideas than bankruptcy.

    I’m sure some of you have already done this but I did send a copy of my franchise agreement and copies of email to Curves legal telling them I would like to close as I can’t afford to remain open anymore, and a letter stating what my problem is to our state’s Attorney General’s office in hopes that they might have some ideas. I have not heard anything from them yet.

  • June 11, 2013 at 8:47 am
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    I too am going through a roller coaster of emotions and loss and not sure what to do. I to got sucked into a Curves frranchisee and lost a lot of money. I was told things i was going to get with this franchisee and got nothing they turned it all around and if I wanted it then I had to pay more money.

    I had to close as I could not afford rent as I spent to much moeny into getting set up and being screwed over by curves. Now they sent me to a optima credit place and are threating to go further. Not sure what to do, I do not have any money to pay them I have 2 young kids to provide for, just barley getting by as it is. I am tired of worrying about this I stressed over for this for the past yr and it is not go.

    As a result I suffer from optic migraines that I never had in my life and other things. Does anybody know if they really do come after ppl and to take them to court? I am in Canada and I am very nervous about what they can do, even though I feel they broke the contact since they promised me things that I never got when I signed..

    Once they got my money that was it. I have been trying to get e-mail legal only e-mail address I have and I am getting no replies from them…..Any helpful information or knowledge would be great I cannot afford a lawyer….
    Thanks…..

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