Consumer rights organisation Test Achat is going after a popular gym chain in Belgium for continuing to charge its members despite their sports hall being shut due to the coronavirus lockdown.
In its latest move against corporate misconduct, the consumer protection group is accusing fitness chain Basic-Fit of “illegally” holding on to member subscription fees by ignoring freeze requests from customers.
“Unhappy customers have explained to us that after contacting Basic-Fit, the company offered to reimburse them in small doses, via discounts on future monthly payments,” Test-Achats wrote in a press release.
“But this way of proceeding is simply illegal,” the consumer rights’ organisation wrote.
Gyms and fitness clubs in Belgium have been shut down since 23 November, after the government was forced to put the country back under lockdown as a surge in cases after the summer threatened to lead the understaffed and overwhelmed health sector to collapse.
Since then, the consumer rights group said that many clients had come forward with complaints after realising with “shock” that their monthly fees were still being charged by the Dutch fitness company, whose turnover reached over €500 million in 2019.
“Through a letter sent [on Friday], we remind Basic-Fit that the obligations contained in a contract become null when their execution is no longer possible due to a case of force majeure — which is the case at this time,” Test-Achats wrote in a press release.
The consumer protection group said that it was not the first time that they had to step up for clients of Basic-Fit for the same reason, noting that, at the time, the company had agreed to propose refund alternatives to their customers.
Test-Achats urged customers of the gym chain —which has nearly 200 venues in Belgium, including one nestled inside a former monastery in Ypres— who are facing problems with their membership payments to introduce a complaint.