Can a business continue to charge you even if it’s closed due to COVID? – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

An 85-year-old woman joined a gym to work with a personal trainer. When COVID struck, she stopped walking, but then she got a big surprise on her bank statement. To work things out, she turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Aida is 85 years old, but she is not her great-grandmother’s 85 years.

Patrick Fraser: “You like working out, right?”

Aida Hernandez: “Yes, because I want to stay strong. You know, when I exercise, I feel awake.”

From her youth to today, Aida has stayed in shape. Here she practices Zumba with people half her age, but it just wasn’t enough exercise for her.

Evelyn Medina: “That’s why she did personal training because she didn’t want to lose too much muscle mass.”

In 2019, Aida joined a gym to take classes from a personal trainer. The print in the contract was too small for her to read, so the clerk explained what she was signing.

Aida Hernandez: “When I signed up for the class, it wasn’t, you know, go ahead. It was for a specific time, a specific number of classes.”

Technically, it was $299 a month for 12 months of tuition from her trainer. Then, after the 12 months, Aida could quit, but she doesn’t remember being told that.

Aida Hernandez: “I trust people too much.”

Then, in 2020, COVID struck. Aida stopped going to the gym.

Aida Hernandez: “Because of the virus, I’m afraid. I am so scared of this virus.”

Evelyn Medina: “She assumed that they would not charge her since she was not present.”

Two years passed. That’s when Aida discovered that the gym was charging $300 a month from her account even though she hadn’t seen a trainer in two years. The total amount withdrawn?

Evelyn Medina: “Well, they withdrew $6,900 from their personal training account.”

Evelyn called the gym, explaining her mom thought she would only pay for the tuition if she worked with the trainer, adding that the gym was even closed for a while during COVID, and now Aida wants her money back .

Evelyn Medina: “No. Nobody offered anything.”

Patrick Fraser: “Zero?”

Evelyn Medina: “Zero.”

Aida is now down $6,900 and more importantly for her, COVID has kept her from training.

Aida Hernandez: “Like now, two years in the house, I’m down. I mean, I feel like I’m dying.”

No, Aida, you look great, but legally, Howard, is she in great shape?

Howard Finkelstein, legal expert at 7News: “Legally so-so. While Aida should have canceled the contract when she stopped going, the store should never have billed her when they were closed. Otherwise, they can still legally charge her even though she hasn’t met with the trainer, but does a company really want to do that to an 85-year-old woman?

We contacted LA Fitness, they couldn’t have been kinder because while they didn’t have to return all of Aida’s money, they wrote, “I’m pleased to report that we and the Hernandez family have come to an agreement.” Adding, “Although Ms. Hernandez has not made a formal communication of her intentions regarding her membership, we will honor her requests and resolve the matter.”

Aida Hernandez: “$6,900.”

Evelyn Medina: “I don’t even have a word to say. I mean the help we needed and got.”

The $6,900 was credited to Aida’s account. She didn’t have to lift heavy, just picked up the phone and called Help Me Howard.

Aida Hernandez: “I thought the money was lost, so it’s good. Very well. Thanks.”

Evelyn Medina: “Thank you.”

Glad we could help, Aida.

Well, it’s a reminder for all of us: check your bank accounts and credit cards to make sure money isn’t going where you don’t want it. When you sign a contract, read it or have someone you trust read it because contracts are written by the company for the company, not to protect you.

A problem that gives you a workout? Would you like the burden to be lifted from your shoulders? Don’t sweat it, contact us. We may not be in top form, but when it comes to helping, we’re no dumbbells. Well, I can’t speak for Howard.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

Copyright 2022 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.

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