Extreme Rip-Off?: A NewsChannel 11 Investigation - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/24/08

Extreme Rip-Off?: A NewsChannel 11 Investigation

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It was supposed to be a brand new fitness center, with state-of-the-art equipment.  The place is called Extreme Fitness.  They offered a great deal to new members. Many of the people we talked to, said it was a deal too good to be true.

"They told us it would be about February they'd get the equipment in and up and running," said one paying member.  "February rolled around and no equipment," said another.  "They said it would be a few more weeks - then a few more weeks."

T.C. Goodman was hoping to be lifting weights and walking on a treadmill by now.  But it is April and still no workout equipment.  "We gave him money back in January and we hadn't had any exercise yet," said T.C.

The gym even closed for a while and that's when people contacted NewsChannel 11. "I drove up there and read the posted note on the door saying the locks had been changed," said Dr. Jason White.

The landlord of the building changed the locks because the owner, Shon Perez, didn't pay rent. He also didn't want to talk to us at first. "Can we talk to you about Extreme Fitness?" we asked him.  "Not at this time," said Perez.

We tracked him down at his house.  "People want to know what happened to their money. Got any explanations?"  Perez walked away.

Matt Ramirez, a former employee, says he quit because he didn't feel right about working there and he says Perez still owes him a $1,200 paycheck.  "Back in November, when I first started, we were supposed to be open in January.  January came and went and it didn't look like this place was anywhere near being ready. Then in March, we still weren't ready. And it still didn't look like we were close to being ready," said Ramirez.  

Ramirez says he sold at least $15,000 worth of memberships, many corporate accounts like school districts and doctors offices. Dentist Jason White was one of them.  "They came to us.  (They told us) we'd get a discount if we wrote a check right now," said White.  He bought memberships for eight employees and wrote a check for just under 1,000.  He says Perez cashed that check. 

"I've just had some personal finance problems. Things are back in order. I'm not out to take anyone's money.  Upon Grand Opening, if they want a refund I will give them their money back as long as they adhere to the contract," explained Perez. 

Perez may have legal problems too.  Better Business Bureau President Nan Campbell has taken a lot of complaint calls on this business.  "We have been speaking with law enforcement which in this case is the Texas Attorney General's office," said Campbell.

Campbell is concerned because she found out Perez is breaking the law; operating without a health spa license.  We checked it out and found he's supposed to have a health spa license and he's not allowed to sell memberships without a license.

"Did you get the equipment ordered?" we asked.  "Everything is back on, I just got derailed," Perez said.

Well, it looks like he must have gotten derailed again.  The business was cleared out and the locks have been changed again for failure to pay rent.  We're not sure what's going on with that because the realty company isn't making any comments.

The District Attorney's office is investigating Perez to see if he's committed fraud.  And, the Texas Attorney General's office is also looking into to it. 

If you are one of the 1,500 people who signed up and want to file a complaint, you can do so by (clicking here).  All the complaints filed are being forwarded to the Texas Attorney General's office.

The Better Business Bureau
For more information on consumer guidance, business guidance, dispute resolution, and consumer news and alerts; click here to goto the Better Business Bureau's web site.

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