Settlement forbids Bally Fitness from sending fake 'past-due' notices

Bally Total Fitness Corp. agreed to stop mailing bogus "past-due" notices to former customers in Texas and will refund those who fell for its marketing practices, the Texas Attorney General's office has announced.

The California-based fitness chain, which operates 24 fitness centers in and around the Dallas, Houston and San Antonio areas, and almost 300 more around the country, signed an agreed judgment with the Texas Attorney General's Office prohibiting the past-due mailings intended to convince past customers to rejoin its gyms. Bally must also refund Texans it fooled into paying fees they didn't owe for gym time they didn't use.

An investigation by the Attorney General's Office revealed that between summer 2009 and spring 2010, Bally mailed more than 11,000 of the notices. The bogus billings created the impression that former members owed Bally outstanding membership fees, but were actually an attempt to con them into renewing memberships, the state said.