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Fixer barely breaks sweat over fitness-club takeover

THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU

$1,191,334

Updated: February 10, 2012 1:31AM



Dear Fixer: I am a dedicated hapkido student, formerly studying at Bally Total Fitness in both Villa Park and Glendale Heights.

In November, I persuaded my husband to join. He bought a $45 uniform, and paid $22.99 for his first two weeks, $22.99 for his last two weeks and $29.00 for a card fee on Nov. 17.

He went to what would have been his second class on Nov. 22, only to find out that LA Fitness is buying out Bally and had immediately discontinued all martial arts because it does not “fit the image” they want.

The Villa Park Bally’s manager said he had to call the home office to see if anything could be done. He did, and they said they will not refund any of my husband’s money because the “buyer’s remorse” deadline was Nov. 21.

This is not a case of buyer’s remorse. He didn’t want to quit, but Total Martial Arts no longer exists!

The worst part is that about 50 tae kwon do and hapkido masters are now out of a job. Everyone is devastated.

Please help! It’s really not the money. It’s the principle.

Sharon Pirog, Westchester

Dear Sharon: The Fixer barely broke a sweat on this one ­— and we didn’t even have to throw anyone across a mat.

Days before LA Fitness’ takeover of 171 Bally Total Fitness locations became official — Chicago-based Bally will continue to operate 100 clubs under their name — we were able to get your problem into the capable hands of Larry Larsen, VP at Sard Verbinnen & Co. He’s the guy handling Bally’s media relations. Larsen took it to Bally, and they agreed that your husband should get a refund, because of the reasons you cited.

Now let’s hope you and your hubby can find a new place to work on your wristlocks and flying side kicks.

Costly Lesson

A consumer’s tale of woe

A lot of folks are looking for a second — or first — job around the holidays to earn extra cash, but there are good and bad ways to go about it, as these Fixer readers demonstrate.

Our first tale of woe is from Mary of Naperville, who is unemployed. One day, she got an e-mail from a Chicago recruiter who hinted he had a job for her. The catch? Mary had to pay for a special service to post her resume.

“Generally, when a recruiter contacts you, submitting a resume is free,” a rightfully suspicious Mary wrote The Fixer. This guy wanted her to spend $59 for a posting service. “I wonder how much of a kickback he gets. I have refused to post and told him why, but I can see where someone desperate might do it. It is despicable, reprehensible and unethical.”

Job-seekers: View any boilerplate recruiting e-mails with caution and make sure you check out any recruiting service thoroughly before sending them your information. In Mary’s case, they wanted money. Others are fishing for identity information.

Our second tale is from Linda of Aurora, who got sucked into a work-at-home scheme. She was to mail packages for her new boss, who said he was in New York.

“He would have people send me packages,” Linda wrote The Fixer. “I received nine different things to ship to the Russian Federation, which I did. He was supposed to pay me $20 per package for the first 45 days, then I would go on a salary of $750 per week plus $20 per package. It sounds too good, right?”

(Yes, it does!)

“I received the nine different things in a month’s time and I shipped these packages out on the same day I received them. I wanted to show my boss that I was an honest person,” Linda wrote.

“I don’t understand the whole concept of this business or why they shipped these to me instead of right to the Russia Federation because they were also in the United States as I am.”

That is a great question. Why would a mysterious online employer pay someone $37,000 annually plus shipping costs to send stuff to the Russian Federation?

Needless to say, Linda never got the $180 she was promised for taking on this shipping project . . . and heaven knows what shady deal was going on with all these boxes going to the Russian Federation.

We wish that wasn’t the case, as Linda really needed a job. It’s too bad the job never existed.

What is a Costly Lesson? It’s an UNFIXABLE problem that cost someone a lot of money but holds a valuable lesson for the rest of us. If you’ve got something to warn the rest of us about, e-mail it to szimmermann@suntimes.com with Costly Lessons in the subject line.

Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at www.newssunonline.com.



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