Gold’s Gym Oxnard and its owner, Noel Thompson, have been ordered to pay $6 million in civil penalties and restitution, Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten said in a June 17 statement.
According to the district attorney’s complaint, Thompson’s businesses violated several consumer-protection laws by collecting money on void and illegal contracts, charging gym members’ credit cards without their authorization, refusing to cancel contracts and automatically renewing contracts illegally. The Oxnard gym also refused to allow gym members who were deployed overseas to cancel their contracts, the complaint alleged, illegally charged members more than their contracts stated and often referred clients to collections agencies when they didn’t pay.
The district attorney’s office said it began its investigation after its office, local media outlets and the Tri-Counties Better Business Bureau all received complaints about the gym’s business practices.
Along with Body Shaping Gyms Inc., the parent company for the Gold’s Gym franchise, Thompson also operated Body Shaping Investments LLC, a related business.
Body Shaping Gyms filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December, the district attorney’s office said. Around the same time, the business lost its right to the Gold’s Gym franchise for the area. The company now does business as Powerhouse Gyms under a court-appointed trustee, who has assumed control over the business’ assets and operations.
Along with the monetary fine, Ventura County Judge Vincent O’Neill issued a permanent injection against Thompson and his businesses, prohibiting them from “violating laws related to health studio services,” Totten’s office said.
Gym members who believe they have suffered a loss due to the company’s unfair business practice should submit a claim and supporting document to the district attorney’s office. Claim documents are available by calling (805) 662-1750, emailing [email protected] or visiting www.vcdistrictattorney.com.