Two months after its NYC locations suddenly closed, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he was suing the company running David Barton Gyms for taking all of their prepaid customers' money.
A press release from the AG's office explains, "[O]ver 5,000 members enrolled in these four New York City health club facilities, many of whom had paid hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in advance for membership and training packages. At least one consumer complained that he had paid in excess of $15,000. Although Defendants were well aware that the health clubs were in a financially precarious position, they continued to enroll new members and accept payments for future services up through early December 2016. The health clubs failed to provide any advance notice to members that they were going to close. The clubs subsequently filed for bankruptcy."
When the chain—operated by Club Ventures (Barton left the company in 2013)—closed on December 21st, 2016, a spokesperson said, "It marks the loss of an iconic brand." The closures were supposedly due to the high price of rental real estate and more competition from boutique gyms, “especially in New York. There is severe competitive pressure. The fitness industry has gone through substantial changes with the opening of boutique gyms and studios. The David Barton model no longer works."
The lawsuit claims that David Barton gyms had been "promoting itself on social media up to two days before it closed" and seeks full restitution for the prepaid members.
"As alleged in our complaint, David Barton Gyms acted irresponsibly and left their members without any recourse to recover lost payments, causing some to lose thousands of dollars," said Schneiderman in a statement. "Health clubs must own up to their responsibilities to their members. They cannot be open one day and closed the next without proper notice to their membership, and must provide refunds for services not provided."
The AG's office says that any members who believe they are owed a refund should file a complaint online or call 1-800-771-7755, plus contact their credit card company to dispute the charges.