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2 LI Synergy Fitness Clubs settle in unfair billing case

Synergy Fitness in Farmingdale on Sept. 1, 2006.

Synergy Fitness in Farmingdale on Sept. 1, 2006. Credit: George Tsourovakas

State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman Monday announced a settlement with six Synergy Fitness Clubs, including locations in Garden City and Farmingdale, saying that the clubs “improperly billed consumers for memberships” and “misrepresented and unfairly applied their cancellation policies.”

The clubs will pay a combined $60,000 in penalties and fines, according to the settlement, and discontinue improper billing and cancellation practices.

In settling, the clubs neither admitted nor denied the allegations.

An attorney for Synergy did not respond to repeated requests for comment. An employee at the Farmingdale club referred questions to the Garden City location. A manager of the Garden City club said he was unfamiliar with the settlement and couldn’t provide additional information.

Schneiderman’s office said it launched an investigation of the clubs in 2014. The attorney general, the Better Business Bureau and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs received more than 100 complaints about nine separate Synergy locations, three of which closed earlier this year.

The settlement said that the clubs “set onerous and unreasonable conditions to cancel, in some instances, charged fees that were not part of the contract and were unresponsive to consumer complaints.” The settlement also said, “In some cases, consumers have been harassed by [the clubs’] collection agent seeking collection on contracts that were canceled years earlier.”

There are several other Synergy Fitness locations on Long Island, and they were not mentioned in the settlement.

The clubs in the settlement agreed to change their contracts to comply with the state’s Health Club Services Law. In addition, the attorney general said the clubs will have to “provide restitution” for consumers who can demonstrate they paid for health services after canceling memberships since January 2014.

Synergy Fitness Clubs was founded in New York City in 1991, according to its website.

“Consumers join health clubs to get fit, not to spend energy avoiding improper fees or dealing with harassing collection calls concerning lawfully canceled contracts,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

The six operational locations involved in the settlement include:

  • Synergy Fitness Astoria, Inc., 23-35 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106
  • 1781 Fitness Corp., 1781 Second Ave., New York, N.Y. 10128
  • Pekic Fitness, Inc., 184 Lexington Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016
  • Garden City Fitness Corp., 190 Broadway, Garden City, N.Y. 11040
  • Farm Fitness Inc., 410 Conklin St., Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735
  • ABDO Fitness Corp., 244 East 14th Street, New York, N.Y. 10003

Tips for selecting a health club:

  • Before enrolling, ask about fees and when they must be paid.
  • Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics, or feel obligated to sign a contract immediately.
  • Look for clubs that allow members to make monthly dues payments and permit cancellation for any valid reason.
  • Read the contract carefully and make sure all verbal promises made by a salesperson are included.

Source: New York State Attorney General’s Office

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