States to Town Sports: Stop Charging Fees While Facilities Are Closed

Below and here is the letter sent by the Attorneys General of New York, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia to the CEO of Town Sports International Holdings, Inc. regarding their alleged “unlawful response to the COVID-19 pandemic and national emergency.”

From the letter:

[I]t is a false and deceptive practice and a violation of our States’ health club laws for TSI to charge dues or assess fees when the services for which members pay such fees are unquestionably no longer being provided through no fault of the members. Members have the absolute right to cancel or freeze their memberships without paying any fees or providing advance notice when TSI has closed its clubs in our States and is therefore failing to provide any health club services, even if the closures were mandated by the government as a result of the national COVID-19 pandemic and state of emergency.

As the letter notes, the fact that COVID-19 has subjected the company to “extraordinary financial stress”, this does “not give TSI the right to violate the law in an apparent attempt to mitigate its financial distress at its members’ expense.”

It demands that TSI:

  • immediately implement a membership freeze at no
    cost to members and honor cancellation requests submitted by mail, telephone, or email without
    charging any fees or imposing any conditions (such as advance notice requirements), and
  • post a notice on its website and send an email to members clearly and unambiguously conveying this information, with the text of this communication to be pre-approved by the States.

If TSI fails to do so, the States express their intention to “take whatever steps are necessary to protect our citizens and enforce [their] laws.”