CHICAGO — A member of Chicago Athletic Clubs’ Lincoln Park gym filed a lawsuit Monday over the chain’s abrupt cancellation of a rewards program, and he wants the club to compensate him and all others impacted.
Chicago Athletic Clubs previously awarded points to members after they complete certain tasks, such as going to the gym, participating in a fitness challenge or referring a friend. The points could be redeemed for things such as water bottles, t-shirts, personal training, swimming lessons and a free pass for a friend.
In an email sent to members just after midnight on July 16, the club announced it had ended its 2.5- year-old rewards program, and points could no longer be used.
Lawyer Tom Zimmerman’s client Andy Ambrosius filed the lawsuit on Monday in the chancery division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The suit, which seeks class action status, names as defendants Chicago Athletic Clubs, eight neighborhood gyms in the chain and parent company LPAC Holdings.
Ambrosius joined Lincoln Park Athletic Club in February 2016 and had over 1,200 points when the program ended, Zimmerman said. Ambrosius had previously redeemed other points for guest passes over the past two years.
“He was saving up to redeem for one of the higher rewards,” Zimmerman said.
Ambrosius could not be reached for comment.
Since the complaint was filed on Monday, Zimmerman said his office has heard from “a number of people” who are also members of the chain’s clubs.
“Everyone is upset about this, the rewards program is not only a benefit to the members but to the health club, too. In order to get points, people had to continue being a dues paying member to participate. As a term of membership, the members were entitled to participate in the rewards program and earn points that never expired. People relied on that, they wanted to accrue unused points and save for higher value rewards… they didn’t run out and buy a water bottle every time they got 100 points,” Zimmerman said.
A spokeswoman for Chicago Athletic Clubs did not respond to a request for comment on the suit. The club has 30 days to file an answer to the court in response to the allegations in the complaint.
Previously, after Block Club reported on the points program cancellation, a Chicago Athletic Clubs spokeswoman said discontinuing the program was a difficult decision for the club to make. “In the end, our rewards program was devaluing our services and not fully honoring our members. Yes, there were short term rewards but overall we are going back to offering more robust referral promos, other giveaways and have offered deep discounts at this time,” the spokeswoman wrote.
Zimmerman, whose firm specializes in consumer rights, said he’d like the complaint to yield one of two possible scenarios. “The club should allow the members a certain period of time to redeem their unused points or give them some compensation for the points that they’ve accrued,” he said.
When asked if he could define compensation, whether it’s in the form of a service such as a personal training session or an amount of money that a service or item would cost, Zimmerman replied: “I don’t know at this point what would be an appropriate [compensation].”
The number of members across all eight gyms is not stated in the suit, but the complaint alleges that several hundred people were impacted. Zimmerman said he’s seeking a class certified case of all members in the program who had unused points.