I would like to start wearing a shirt to ABCGym stating something to the effect of:
ABCGym refuses to refund payment it accepted for membership to a gym ABCGym closed. ABCGym has substituted an inferior-to-me option.
My question has two parts. The first is more of legality and definition. The second is more around what could they do.
Can it be construed as libel, solicitation or something else I probably should be aware of? Though it might tarnish the image, assuming those statements are true I believe the criteria for libel would not be met.
To solicitation, they have a broad and basic anti-solicitation policy, including "Any solicitation within any club is absolutely forbidden." While provocative, I don't see that this can be defined as soliciting. Even if I were to list competitors, without me benefitting from any sales that still seems at worst a gray area. Am I misinterpreting soliciting?
As to recourse, sure they can ask me not to wear it. Were I to refuse to remove the shirt, could they bar me from using the membership without refund for doing something that is legal and within dress code, but deemed naughty in their sight?
I joined XYZ 22 years ago. ABC bought XYZ four years ago. At the time of ABC buying the XYZ, my membership was specifically to location A. It remained so after the purchase and we continued under essentially that agreement (I now pay annual dues to ABC in return for membership to location A).
In late September, ABC accepted annual payment, then announced about five weeks later they were closing "my" gym (location A). It is, IMO, a bit disingenuous at this point to accept payment on an agreement they likely knew they were going to alter. On Nov. 30, they closed location A and transferred me to location B.
As to why it's bothersome, admittedly part of the issue is annoyance with just being told, in effect, "We broke the agreement, and you'll take what we substitute." But more materially it's a matter of:
- adding 9-15 minutes travel to every workout;
- being more crowded;
- more tightly spacing equipment;
- less of the equipment I use;
- worse condition of the equipment;
- fewer "spare" weights; and
- smaller open training area.
Two have asked:
Prior to reaching this point, I attempted...
- a request over their website without response;
- speaking to a person in the cancellation department. I was directed to the talk to a manager in club;
- speaking to manager I was forwarded to the GM/Operations Manager;
- emailing with the GM/OM cited due to the type and history of the account, no refund was possible;
- a second request over the website without response;
- calling the membership department. After time on hold the representative relayed the supervisor's statement it wasn't possible because they have another location within 25 miles;
- Still awaiting a call from said supervisor that was supposed to occur 12/26.
Resolution Before it came to the shirt, inquiry with BBB led ABCGym contacting me and refunding the remainder of my contract. I expect the Yelp review that has been marked as helpful and 1-on-1 discussions with a number of people, they've lost far more in business than the $131 they finally refunded.