3 On Your Side

Phoenix man says gym 'worked out' his wallet

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John Nicholoff tries to maintain his proper weight by walking his dogs. But walking outside in Arizona isn't always a good idea.

"It's just hot in the summer. You know, it's 120 degrees so you don't want to be walking," Nicholoff told 3 On Your Side.

So, when Nicholoff drove past a gym called Blast Fitness in north Phoenix, he and his teenage daughter decided to go inside to check out the facility and to see how much a monthly membership was. Nicholoff says he listened to a verbal sales pitch and was told he and his daughter could join for $10 a month each with no contract.

“Oh yeah, $10 a month is pretty good," he said. “Yeah, $10 each for me and my daughter. So, $20 a month total."

Nicholoff says he filled out what he remembers was a one-page generic document, and nothing more.

He then provided his bank's debit card so Blast Fitness could make automatic withdrawals to pay the two monthly memberships.

However, several months later, Nicholoff says he lost his wallet and that meant he had to cancel his debit card. It also meant Blast Fitness couldn't make their automatic monthly withdrawals. Nicholoff found that out when he went to the gym to work out recently and was told he owed a lot more than just two months of membership.

"’Well, you were canceled two months ago,’" he says a representative told him. “And, I said, ‘Why?' They said because of no payment and I said, 'Oh, probably because I lost my debit card.'"

As a result, Nicholoff says Blast Fitness tacked on penalties and late fees totaling around $280. The gym also sent him to a collections agency, which he says keeps calling him and demanding payment.

So, 3 On Your Side got involved. Blast Fitness looked into the matter and told us that according to its paperwork, Nicholoff signed off on a five-page document outlining the gym's fees and penalties and agreeing to them.

However, Nicholoff says he and his daughter were never given five pages of information to look at, saying they may have signed an electronic signature pad, but it came with absolutely no paperwork.

Nicholoff says he’s learned a valuable lesson when it comes to gyms and paperwork.

"It's not a good business practice. It makes me real uneasy," he said. Blast Fitness tells 3 On Your Side it's willing to waive that $280 as long as Nicholoff participates in its "Forgive and Forgive" program.

That means the company will waive the $280 if he agrees to sign up and commit himself for another full year to the gym.

Nicholoff says he hasn't decided what to do yet.

If you want review the unedited response from Blast Fitness to 3 On Your Side, click here.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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