New York Sports Clubs Sued for Still Charging Gym Fees for More Than 600,000 Members Despite Coronavirus Closure

A New York-based gym company is being sued following complaints from patrons that it is still charging them membership fees despite being forced to close amid the coronavirus.

The New York Sports Clubs is being accused of "defrauding" more than 600,000 members by not freezing payments and making it "virtually impossible" for them to cancel their memberships.

In a class action lawsuit filed against New York Sports Club's parent company Town Sports International Holdings and Town Sports International (TSI), the gym is also accused of ignoring multiple requests from its members to cancel or freeze their memberships despite all gyms in New York being told to suspend operations on March 16 to help combat the spread of COVID-19

Members have repeatedly taken to social media to complain about their accounts not being frozen or the gym not canceling their memberships.

"You are not 'here to help.' So far you have ignored emails and have not addressed our concerns with membership fees," Twitter user Tom Perlman wrote in response to New York Sports Clubs confirming its closure.

"Credit card already has the order to refuse payment and I will be submitting a complaint to the State for price gouging. You will not steal our money."

"There's nothing on your website about refunds. When I called your parent company TSI at 877-258-2311, I got a voicemail saying refunds couldn't be processed at this time," added Twitter user @tinmaniac. "Other gyms are being responsive. Why can't you be?"

Contract says null and void if you're not able to provide services. AND everyone has been calling and emailing with no help. It's your responsibility to FREEZE memberships with no fee when you're not able to provide services.

— Every religion has a point (@This_Evil_Bunny) March 21, 2020

@NYSC Hi there I have been tryin to call your customer service # and no answer.. how do we freeze our memberships until gyms reopen? And do we still have to puy while the gym is closed?

— Michelle (@Harlemhonie) March 26, 2020

Elsewhere, an online petition demanding TSI be held "accountable and responsible" for reimbursing all those who have attempted to cancel their membership or get a refund in March and beyond has attracted more than 1,500 signatures.

"TSI must do right by New Yorkers who are at the epicenter of this global crisis by freezing all gym memberships effective immediately, honoring all written or verbal membership cancellation requests, and issuing refunds to those members who were fraudulently charged fees for gym memberships that they are now unable to use," David E. Gottlieb, Partner at Wigdor LLP law firm, said in a statement.

"We call on our public institutions - including the New York State Attorney General's Office and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs - to take formal action against TSI to protect the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers being victimized by this corporate greed."

TSI has been contacted for comment.

A New York Sports Clubs at 41st Street is temporarily closed as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 16, 2020 in New York City. Cindy Ord/Getty

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 23,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York, making it one of the most infected cities in the world right now.

Overall, the U.S now has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the entire world with more than 85,000. There have been 1,296 fatalities from the virus, with 753 patients managing to recover.

This infographic, provided by Statista, shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York state compared to Washington and California.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York, Washington,California

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice:

• Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
• Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
• Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
• Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice:

• Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
• Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
• If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
• Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
• Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage:

• Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
• Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
• Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
• Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
• Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
• Do not reuse single-use masks.
• Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
• The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.