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Published: Thursday, 4/14/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU

Gym gets 'F' rating for billing complaints

Urban Active fitness has 2 area sites

BY SHEENA HARRISON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The firm's Sylvania Township facility has been open since 2008, and it opened a center in Maumee in 2009. More than 60 customers in northwest Ohio have complained, said Dick Eppstein, BBB president. The firm's Sylvania Township facility has been open since 2008, and it opened a center in Maumee in 2009. More than 60 customers in northwest Ohio have complained, said Dick Eppstein, BBB president.
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Urban Active Fitness, a gym chain with fitness centers in Sylvania Township and Maumee, has received an ‘F' rating from the Better Business Bureau because of customer complaints about the company's contracts and billing.

More than 60 customers have submitted complaints to the BBB about Urban Active in northwest Ohio, said Dick Eppstein, president of the BBB Serving Northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan. Customers have accused the gyms of automatically renewing their contracts without their consent or charging them for memberships that they believed had been canceled.

"Our concern is that even when the customer wants to negotiate some kind of a cancellation, the company is apparently not willing to do that," Mr. Eppstein said about Urban Active, which is based in Lexington, Ky., and has nearly 40 gyms in seven states.

The BBB assigns ratings from "A+" to "F" based on several criteria, including how long the business has been open, the number of complaints received, and whether the business has handled issues in a timely manner. Urban Active received the BBB's lowest rating, in part, because the company has not responded to several complaints, including six that have been submitted since March, Mr. Eppstein said.

A statement from Urban Active yesterday said local complaints about the gym represent "less than 1 percent" of its Toledo-area membership. The Sylvania Township gym opened in 2008 and the Maumee gym in 2009.

"Many times a BBB complaint arises after the member has received an unsatisfactory explanation of their contractual duties from our representatives," the statement said. "We understand and respect the role that the BBB plays in consumer awareness and we are transitioning a point person to deal directly with BBB issues as they arise."

The BBB's Web site says Urban Active resolved or attempted to resolve 40 complaints at the Toledo-area gyms. The company reportedly has not responded to 15 customer complaints, according to the Web site.

The Toledo BBB referred Urban Active complaints to the Ohio Attorney General's Office in December because it said the company had been unresponsive to several complaints. A spokesman for the attorney general's office said it has received 224 complaints statewide since 2008. The office would not confirm nor deny whether it is investigating the gym chain.

Mr. Eppstein said the BBB has given ‘F' ratings to Urban Active at other locations, including its Kentucky headquarters. "Apparently, it's not just local," Mr. Eppstein said. "It's a problem all over."

Contact Sheena Harrison at: sharrison@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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