MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Derek Otten has been a Youfit member for years. When he spotted an empty storefront at the Mesa location where he worked out before coronavirus forced temporary closures, he reached out to the company.

"I'm still trying to convince myself there’s no way they’re just packing up and leaving and not letting anybody know because there are a lot of people that go to that location," he said. "It is gutted. TVs are gone. Desks are gone. Equipment is gone. Everything is gone."

Youfit in Mesa empty

Youfit responded to Otten, confirming the Mesa location on Recker Road is permanently closed and merging with another location in Gilbert. Derek tried to cancel his membership, but he says he is still being charged $22 a month.

"For them to shut down the gym and still charge me, that’s where the frustration for me as a consumer really gets me," he said.

As 3 On Your Side reported in April, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sent a letter to Youfit demanding that they make their cancellation policies more flexible during the coronavirus pandemic. A spokesperson for Brnovich says Youfit responded and said it would allow members to cancel over the phone. When Governor Doug Ducey's emergency order expired allowing gyms to reopen, so did Youfit's flexibility.

According to an email Otton received from the company at the end of May, the only way he is able to cancel his membership is by sending a letter to an address in Florida.

"Youfit just seems to really be dropping the ball as far as any communication," Otton said.

While other gyms voluntarily froze memberships because of coronavirus closures, Youfit continued to charge members. When the temporary closures began, Youfit sent an email to members explaining its policy.

"We desperately need our employees to have a job to return to, so this short term economic pinch doesn't become a long term issue," CEO Rick Berks wrote. "To that end, all revenue collected will be used to pay our employees and cover the basic needs of the business. While we did temporarily lay off some part-time and hourly employees, we retained virtually ALL salaried and full-time employees, at near full pay and with full benefits intact."

In the same email, Berks said customers facing financial hardship should call Youfit, but acknowledged the calls might not go through.

This month, Youfit filed a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit that was filed in Florida over the fees, saying “there is no provision in the agreement that requires Youfit to suspend membership dues in the event of a government shutdown or otherwise."

Despite several calls and emails, Youfit has not responded to 3 On Your Side's questions. The company has not said whether other Valley locations are permanently closing, but insiders tell 3 On Your side additional closures are possible.

Consumers with concerns about gym memberships can file a consumer complaint through the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

 

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