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Local health-club chain lays off pretty much everybody

Layoff notice to BSC staff, including general managers

Boston Sports Clubs told workers today that when the clubs closed for the interim today, they would be laid off. The chain's Web site alerts members about the shutdown but doesn't say anything about suspending monthly memberships until the clubs can re-open.

"They told their trainers (NYC/Boston) on a conference call they were leaving and their jobs weren’t promised to them when this was all over," said one person familiar with the layoffs.

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If you can't do it online, send a Certified Mail letter, "effective immediately", and keep a copy.

When the virus is over, find a gym with more class.

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Voting closed 71

I logged onto BSC's website to review my contract and saw that there is the following provision to cancel without being charged anything else

ADDITIONAL RIGHTS TO CANCELLATION: You or your estate may also cancel this contract for any of the following reasons:

- If the health club services to be provided under this contract are not available because seller fails to open a planned health club or
location, permanently discontinues operation of the health club or location, or substantially changes the operation of the health club or
location.

There is also language saying that they can charge you one more month. Read your contracts.

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Voting closed 9

I've tried calling and emailing Jonathan Badot, manager of the Downtown Crossing location, and he has been radio silent, although he's been quite active on Twitter over the past few days!

Calls and emails to parent company Town Sports International have gone unanswered as well.

I don't think there's a way anyone can actually suspend or cancel their memberships given the above. Would love to know if there is a way to do it though.

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Voting closed 6

For those folks. I hope they get some severance. I think we will see this more and more.

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Voting closed 16

For a business that is suppose to keep people healthy, that is a really sick move.

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Voting closed 25

I went to pump some iron
Saw that everyone was fired
They blamed it on the pandemic
It seems like questionable ethics
I think they all are liars

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Voting closed 21

The guy answering the phone got laid off. Mwa ha ha

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Voting closed 18

I belong to Beacon Hill Athletic Club. Their email made it clear they intend to keep paying their employees. Because of this I'm happy to keep paying my dues. I hope BSC members demand their money back.

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Voting closed 104

I have been a BSC member for 18 years, i am appalled at how they are treating their employees. i will absolutely be fighting them to have my dues refunded for this period, and if they won't do it, i'll open a fraud case with my credit card.

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Voting closed 38

I had to open a fraud case with my CC just to cancel my membership with them.

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Voting closed 10

This is indeed a terrible way to treat people and a terrible image to project. Even if they couldn't afford to pay everyone, they should've said something like "bla bla, these are difficult times but we will get through this together, unpaid leave, etc."

They are just saying "fuck it, we don't care and we're not even going to try"

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Voting closed 21

meetoo. i would be o.k. with a verifiable reason why it would be too burdensome for them to proceed.
i signed up for a gym in another state and it felt like boiler room. is this whole industry mash up ?

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Voting closed 10

A formal layoff means they can get unemployment, and their insurance will go up later as a result. Many companies aren't even doing this - they just make their employees "choose" between working and quitting (Starfucks).

This may also count under state laws about plant closings.

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Voting closed 45

true, but it was a pretty shitty way to communicate the news. even saying "we're laying everyone off to expedite the ability to collect unemployment" would have been better.

town sports international, on the whole, is a pretty wretched company. i am friends with a few trainers in the BSC network, and the conditions of their employment are awful. the company keeps raising rates, but doesn't give trainers more of a share, and they are slow to repair equipment, even when it is unsafe.

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Voting closed 21

The WARN Act does not apply to closings caused by unforseeable circumstances.

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Voting closed 11

This would be reasonable IF they were suspending member fees, but thus far I haven't heard from anyone that they have. Based on my experience with this gym, I expect anything relating to money and profit to be a little bit shady. If they are truly taking advantage of the situation, then they should be exposed for their bad behavior. It's probably not safe to either absolve or condemn them until we have all of the facts.

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Voting closed 10

To file for unemployment, a significant reduction in hours is more than enough. Given that roughly 5500 of TSI's employees are hourly, they were already experiencing the reduction in hours needed to file for unemployment. By laying off all club-level employees, TSI is taking away their health benefits effective immediately, in addition to not paying them.

Please do not act like this is a merciful decision. It isn't. All hourly employees were eligible to file for unemployment as soon as the clubs were closed.

Additionally, TSI is not "better" than Starbucks for closing. They only closed because they were forced to do so by the government. They had no intention of closing, or even hiring more cleaning staff to keep the clubs sanitary during this epidemic.

The correct response is what BHAC and Equinox are doing: closing as mandated, but keeping all employees on and paying them for this time.

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Voting closed 5

What an absolutely deplorable way for CEO (and BC Alum) Patrick Walsh to treat the employees of this company. There was little notice to gym members and membership fees will almost certainly still be collected automatically.

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Voting closed 20

Yes, this looks like an employer doing a money grab of the auto dues while relieving himself of the need to pay anyone.

My gym is paying everyone for the next two weeks what they earned n the previous two weeks and then to unemployment. It's not much, but it's a hell of a lot better.

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Voting closed 22

They start the bad news by calling their soon-to-be ex-employees as "team"?!?

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Voting closed 20

I am a BSC employee and the call yesterday was nothing short of what I would expect from this company. This was my main source of income between graduating from college and getting a full time position in business. I am also disappointed in how BSC handled this whole situation in general.

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Voting closed 34

I know they are not obligated but it's the decent thing to do, to help people. I know you can get unemployment but still, offering severance should still happen.

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Voting closed 9

They might be going under.

Company finances and stock don’t looks that great. (CLUB)

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Voting closed 11

The mens locker room at BSC's Prudential Center location was closed a few weeks ago by ISD for multiple health code violations. If they're cutting back on cleaning and maintenance, it makes me wonder what else they're skimping on.

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Voting closed 12

I thought the men's locker room was closed temporarily because there was a pipe that burst. When it reopened, there was a section that was partitioned off directly behind a bank of showers where the lockers had been pulled away from the wall and construction was occurring. That bank of showers was out of commission as well.

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Voting closed 9

I’m a member there, and I want a totally prorated month and zero cost to me until the day they open again. And I’m gonna get it. Those fck8n fckers.

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Voting closed 30

I'm hoping that BSC let everyone go so it is easier for the employees to collect unemployment... I hope that this is the case and not because BSC corporate doesn't want to have to continue paying wages / benefits

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Voting closed 17

In order to collect unemployment, you do not necessarily need to be unemployed. A significant reduction in hours qualifies you for unemployment. All hourly employees became eligible as soon as the clubs had to close.

This action removed health benefits from anyone who was eligible for them, and ensures that salaried employees are also unpaid during this time period.

Please do not try to make excuses for a multi million dollar company proving how much they do not care about their employees.

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Voting closed 6

Completely unacceptable. Obviously they are still collecting their dues as always. As soon as my contract is up, I’m leaving.

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Voting closed 29

Laying them off allows them to recall them back to their positions after they reopen and they can collect unemployment in the meantime. Construction sites and seasonal workers get this all the time. It would be better to keep paying them obviously, but I bet more businesses are doing this than you think.

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Voting closed 14

I understand that’s probably what’s happening, but they did it in a shitty way and are still pocketing dues. It’s not like their operating costs are going up during all of this.

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Voting closed 12

Wow. Kind of ironic since in between the music they play at the clubs are ads about how great of a place it is to work. Guess it's not so great!

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Voting closed 13

Me thinks BSC doth protest too much.

See also: Every single anti-gay politician getting caught with some dude.

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Voting closed 8

So there's not going to be anyone there to cancel my membership.

Should we tell our credit card companies to cease payment?

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Voting closed 12

Yes, these are unprecedented times, and you need to call the CC and dispute any payment that was unethical and overreaching during the lock down. I denied payment on a hotel that wouldn't refund me because of the lock down. I WILL NOT pay for services UN-rendered

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Voting closed 6

I checked the BSC website early last night and it made no mention of anything other than business as usual, which was surprising. A few minutes later, I was at the Downtown Crossing location and there was a printed sign on the door announcing the closure and directing members to email manager Jonathan Badot with questions. I sent him several emails last night and one this morning, none of which he has responded to yet. I'm not holding out much hope since it's always amateur hour at BSC.

As an FYI, if you call Town Sports International, you won't get an agent on the phone either. I tried every menu combination and the automated message is the same - essentially, go to your local club to speak with a manager. So, if you're trying to at least freeze your membership until the company decides to start being transparent, you probably won't be able to do it.

I feel bad for most of the employees whom are getting negatively affected by this, but if members start cancelling or otherwise holding this business accountable, then the company is getting what it deserves.

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Voting closed 9

Well it sounds like the corporate office staff will still have jobs. They handle all the memberships.

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Voting closed 8

To the person who said that Corporate staff still have jobs: I called their headquarters and was not able to reach anyone. I'm not sure that they are there.

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Voting closed 8

I tried to contact their Investor Relations dept. It's a publicly traded company that's not bankrupt (yet), so they need to have people staffed there in order to communicate with investors.

Not sure if it will yield any response, but some of their staff is definitely still there.

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Voting closed 6

I have disputed the last charge they made on my credit card with the cc company. I'll also do that for the membership fee they just charged me a month or 2 ago.

AND, I contacted Patrick Walsh through LinkedIn email and asked him what his plan was to refund people.

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Voting closed 10

You can also email Patrick Walsh at - [email protected] and [email protected].

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Voting closed 8

I would be ok with continuing to pay my membership while they were closed if it kept people employed but it sounds like they're just going to take my money and pocket it.

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Voting closed 9

I was also a BSC employee. The way this entire situation was handled was a disgrace, from their lack of communication to employees/members about safety precautions to the way employees were laid off. All employees were laid off, not just hourly staff.

They never sent an email about increased cleaning of the gyms, to stay home if you are under the weather, and didn't remove props, that are rarely (if ever) cleaned, from their group studios. Meanwhile other gyms had already shuttered their doors, and if not closed, had reduced class sizes and removed shared group equipment that couldn't easily be cleaned. I even heard from Petco about their new procedures to stem the spread of Coronavirus for god's sake, and not BSC, a company supposedly in the business of wellness.

Once they decided to close last night, TSI management (BSC's parent company) sent an email out at 8:16pm to group class teachers to join their 8:00pm conference call...usually it is helpful to send out an invite before a meeting starts, not 16 minutes after. I happened to check my email soon after, and promptly joined the call only to catch the last few words which were "lay off everyone", "unemployment", and "thanks for joining". The majority of what I found out about being laid off is from this post, which should not be the case! I am sure it was a tough decision to close and lay all employees off. However, given the uncertainty and fear everyone is experiencing right now with life as we know it instantly altered and income unexpectedly drying up due to the virus, the way this information was communicated should have been handled with much more care!!!

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Voting closed 11

Unbelievable...

Got a charge from BSC today for$ 69.99 on my credit card for the Annual Fee, even though my Annual Fee is always billed in June!

I am filing a charge-back with my credit card company the second this posts to my account!

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Voting closed 3

Hello,

I was keeping my membership active to support the employees and tennis pro at the club even though the services were on hold during this national emergency. But their policies of only canceling/changing membership in person was always a major issue to me in this day of online account membership. But to treat all their employees this way with no notice and pocked our dues is borderline criminal. I just disputed my last charge and am blocking payments from now on with them. You really are a horrible company Town Sports.

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Voting closed 7

My recommendation would be to send a certified letter to their corporate headquarters in accordance with you contract to cancel the agreement:

TOWN SPORTS INTERNATIONAL HOLDINGS, INC.
1001 US North Highway 1, Suite 201
Jupiter, Florida 33477

Do NOT send to your local club.

For my contract - there is a 45 day "notice" period. That way - if for whatever reason they continue to charge me on day 46 (or later) - I have contemporaneous evidence (i.e., a copy of the letter and a certified receipt) of my intent to cancel - which will allow your credit card company to more effectively process a complaint.

Best of luck to all of the employees out there - I've been a member of BSC and NYSC for 10+ years. Always a positive experience.

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Voting closed 5

To those concerned about BSC's practices of taking membership fees while they are closed, there is another thing you can do. You can file a complaint with Massachusetts Attorney General's Consumer Protection branch. This doesn't mean you'll get your money back or your membership easily cancelled, but it's a helpful step in exposing some of BSC's unethical practices.

https://www.mass.gov/how-to/file-a-consumer-complaint

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Voting closed 4