By Justin Martin, KERA News
Dallas, TX – Bally Total Fitness has agreed to pay back Texans caught in a deceptive mailing campaign. KERA's Justin Martin has more.
The Attorney General's Office recently uncovered thousands of misleading mailers between 2009 and 2010.
Attorney General Spokesman Tom Kelley says they were designed to look like collection notices, in hopes of luring in lapsed members:
Kelley: About 10% of the 11,000 people who received these notices actually paid, when in fact they did not owe anything. But, the other part of this was that they were warning them if they didn't pay up they could get a black mark against their credit history, and they would report them to credit reporting organizations, which is absolutely false.
The refunds to Texas customers involve all 24 fitness centers in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
Bally Fitness denies wrongdoing and will send notices to those receiving refunds. Also, the company is now legally barred from saying money is due, unless it's actually owed.
In an e-mail to KERA, Bally spokesman Pete Marino said:
"Although Bally denies all allegations made by the Texas Attorney General's office, we have chosen to resolve this matter consensually in order to minimize the cost and disruption of litigation. Notably, our settlement does not involve any finding of any wrongdoing on the part of Bally, nor were any civil penalties imposed. We are pleased to put this matter behind us so that we can continue to focus on enhancing our member experience."