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Lawsuit: World Gym Shut Down Fitness Centers, Kept Billing Customers

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(Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois Attorney General is suing the owners of some local gyms that shut down last summer and allegedly tried to cheat members.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the owners closed the gyms, made it all but impossible for members to cancel, and continued billing after they were shut down.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

During the summer last year, World Gym locations at 12337 S. Route 59 in Plainfield, 264-268 S. Randall Rd. in Elgin, and 4212 N. Harlem Ave. in Norridge all shut down without notice. The owners directed customers to use other World Gym locations located as much as 22 miles away in Montgomery or Des Plaines, according to the Attorney General’s office.

Some gym members tried to cancel their contracts, but they either received no response at all, received false contact information to cancel, or were told they couldn’t cancel unless they paid additional fees, the office said.

About 150 people who refused to pay memberships at gyms that no longer existed had their accounts sent to a collection agency, the office said.

The suit was filed against World Gym-Willowbrook Inc. and owners James Mecha and Diane Vassolo, as well as Colorado-based ASF International, which processed gym memberships. The lawsuit alleges that with the help of ASF, the gym was able to go on billing and collecting membership fees even though the members were trying to cancel their contracts.

The lawsuit asks the court to ban the World Gym franchisees from owning or operating a fitness center or any business that accepts electronic payments in Illinois. The suit also seeks restitution for customers and civil penalties.

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