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UWS Gym Members Angry at Not Getting Refunds After Sudden Closure of Pool

By Ben Jay | April 14, 2015 10:28am
 West End Health & Fitness refused to refund April membership dues after announcing at the end of March that it was closing its pool for lengthy renovations.   
Gym Management Closes Pool and Refuses to Refund Their Members
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Members of a West End Avenue gym are furious they’re being forced to pay membership fees after receiving less than 24 hours notice they were losing access to the gym’s main attraction — its large private pool.

West End Health & Fitness announced the closure of its 50-foot long, six-lane pool for lengthy repairs in an email to members on March 30.

When members called to cancel their memberships after reading about the repairs, which they were informed would last at least six months, they said they were told they’d have to pay for the entire month of April because it was too late to cancel under gym policy.

“All I use the club for is the pool. Nothing else,” said member Alan Klingenstein in an email to West End’s parent company, Crescent Heights, which he shared with DNAinfo. “Why should you expect me to keep paying anything if you remove the only personally valuable benefit of my membership?” 

Current membership rates at the gym run $105 on a month-to-month basis, or $89.95 per month with a year commitment. 

While the pool is closed, members said they were told to go across town and use the one at the 92nd Street Y on Lexington Avenue for a discounted fee of $5 per visit.

“[There was] no aggressive search for options for the pool people,” said Debbie, a gym member who declined to provide her last name. “The management doesn’t really appear to be responsive."

Member Joseph Trent was stunned the gym expected him to travel "all the way
across town" and then fork over cash to the 92nd Street Y on top of his West End gym fee. 

For someone who swims every day, those pool fees could add up to as much as $155 per month, plus time and transit costs, he noted

"Well, I cannot afford to do this," Trent said. 

The closure also means members who took the aqua aerobics class included in their memberships at West End will have to pay extra for a similar class at the Y, the gym and the Y confirmed. Aqua aerobics and other instruction classes are $35 per class at the Y, a staff member said. 

And while West End's pool stayed open from early in the morning until late at night — from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, and 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. on weekends — the Y is available to members for a more limited time frame.

The hours West End members can use the Y's pool are restricted to only two hours on weekends starting at 6 p.m.; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends; and from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. There is no access Friday nights, a Y staff member said. 

While none of the members said they lodged formal complaints, the state Health Club Services Law states that members are allowed to cancel their memberships and a refund must be provided within 15 days if "services are no longer available or substantially available.”

The state Attorney General’s Office, which regulates gym contracts, declined to comment. 

Still, the West End pool is in need of repair, members said.

"It needs a bit of a facelift, so [the renovation is] good," gym member Carl Berg said.

The pool was closed three times in 2014 as the gym tried to repair it piecemeal, but the latest planned renovation should have come with more warning, explained member Dan Friedman. He noted that West End immediately froze his membership with little hassle during one of the closures in December.

West End Health & Fitness declined to comment.

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