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A Tour, a Sandwich and an Accidental $5,448 Tip at Reston’s Life Time

by Karen Goff — August 4, 2015 at 11:00 am 2,708 23 Comments

Accidental big bill at Life Time/Credit WJLAA local family is asking for help from WJLA’s “7 on Your Side” after their credit card was charged a $5,448.69 tip on a $24.97 cafe bill at Reston’s Life Time Athletic.

Pallavi Srivastava and her husband visited Life Time in April. After taking a tour of the facility, they stopped by the gym’s café, WJLA says. They ordered two black bean burgers and a chicken curry wrap. The total came out to $24.97 with tax of $1.50 and tip.

But when they saw the bill from the credit card company it noted a tip of $5,448.69.

Srivastava said Lifetime told her the server accidentally entered his employee ID in the space for the tip amount.

Here’s what happened next, according to WJLA:

Lifetime promised to correct everything, but the next day they called back saying, “Sorry we gave you back too much money.”

Lifetime asked if she would be comfortable giving them back the credit card so they could recharge the entire amount and then refund it again.

By that time she had interest and late fees and the deadline had passed to dispute the bill with their credit card company.

Then came another call from Lifetime Fitness telling her they had already closed the financial books and couldn’t process the refund.

They referred her to Lifetime’s corporate offices. Four months later she and her husband are still fighting to get the charge cleared off their credit card bill.

So she contacted 7 On Your Side.

“When we said ABC7 News is getting involved, that’s when suddenly we get a call back from this lady who says we can do it,” she says.

7 On Your Side contacted Lifetime’s management. They admitted it was human error and have taken full responsibility. They say they’ve been working with the family’s credit card company and are promising the full refund by the end of the week.

Photo: Accidental big bill at Life Time/Credit WJLA

  • Alejandro

    The deadline passed to dispute the bill?? That is ludicrous, the first thing they should have done is dispute the charge! That being said, Lifetime’s response about the books being closed is equally ridiculous. Sounds like a muppet convention to me.

    • Chuck Morningwood

      Which, of course, would be an insult to Muppets everywhere.

    • Emmanuel Goldstein

      What do you expect from a place that tries to pressure you into joining and from the moment you do join try to pressure you into joining classes or signing up for a personal trainer.

  • Lia

    This does not surprise me. I am still trying to completely close our account with Lifetime Reston after more than a year. When I went to close our membership, they put us on a $15 a month membership fee without my consent. I have contacted them numerous times asking to have that closed and never get calls back. When school starts I will go in and try to talk with someone in person, again. I understand that I will have lost all the money from previous charges, but hopefully it will help with future charges.

    • Mookie Taylor

      You should call your credit card company and tell them you did not consent to that fee.

    • Emmanuel Goldstein

      Lia, do what I did. Call up the CC company, say you had canceled your membership – did not authorize the transactions and would like to request a charge-back.

  • Richard

    I’m a member of Lifetime and I don’t find this surprising at all. Their customer service is terrible. They bill themselves as this high-end experience. They have decent facilities, but the only staff who are impressive are the salespeople. Swimming classes for kids are below average. Trainers come and go with few who are committed to their clients. No active basketball league. Very disappointed. It should be so much better.

  • Emmanuel Goldstein

    Not a shock, when I tried to cancel my membership in Fairfax they did everything they could to keep me. I told them that they would cancel my account and after leaving with them I would be calling up my credit card company to no longer allow transactions from this vendor to be processed. All transactions would be disputed. The meat head was livid but realized I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

  • HP

    Interesting….I was going to consider joining Lifetime. Maybe I should look a little harder. Trouble is finding a decent gym with an indoor pool in Reston/Herndon.

    • cosmo

      I don’t work for them, but I’ve been satisfied with 24-Hour Fitness and they’re opening a new location on Sunrise Valley, though it’s probably many months off. Their other locations have indoor pools so I imagine this one will too. They have a monthly fee (well under half of what Lifetime charges) that they advertise online and you can sign up online without having to go through a sales pitch. Never had any issues with them. I’m also a former Lifetime member and I regret ever signing up with them.

    • BB

      Maybe check out the YMCA in Reston. No contract, just go month to month with a 2 week notice for cancelation.. I don’t work for them – just a very satisfied member, along with my husband.

  • Robin

    Glad to know.… my family and I were considering joining. Not anymore

  • Mike M

    I am guessing the Lifetime employees formerly worked and received customer service training at Verizon.

  • LakeNewportLady

    We’ve been members of lifetime for over a year and have had no issues. Our kids love the Kids Academy and all the classes and I love the pools. This was so clearly a mistake I can’t believe it wasn’t fixed immediately. I’m surprised the person didn’t just tell their CC it wasn’t valid…they would have issued a credit while investigating and no late fees/interest would have been assessed. I do that when I see an incorrect charge of $20 let alone $5K!

  • Karen Goff

    This is not meant to be an indictment of Life Time overall. This is one person and one clerical error. If you were thinking of joining, don’t let this one incident dissuade you.

    • Emmanuel Goldstein

      Yet the comments from all the posters seem to dictate otherwise. Do they sponsor this page or do you have a vested interest in their success??

      • Karen Goff

        Neither. That’s why I am pointing out that this is one incident. I am sure there are hundreds of people who go there every day without any problems.

  • David Peter

    Who got the $5,448.69 from the credit card company … Lifetime, or the employee?

    I would have to say that if any employee had $5K of tips passing through to their check in a single pay period, it SHOULD have raised a huge red flag at the accounting office enough to warrant some investigation on Lifetime’s side. They should never have had to bring in the TV people to get this resolved.

    • Bobby Love

      Agree – I think this WAS caught by the financial staff, and they tried to quietly abscond with ill gotten gains.

  • Thank you may I have another?

    I love how the author says that no one should be dissuaded from joining Lifetime because of their ineptness in handling what should have been a simple matter. Are you kidding me? These people have spent hours upon hours of their time dealing with this. That’s time they don’t spend with their kids or doing other things in life. If there was ever a reason not to join, this is it. These people don’t respect their customers. And if you read the posts, it is apparent that the family with the $5000 tip aren’t the only ones who have been treated like a door mat by Lifetime.

  • RestonRed

    Another former Lifetime member here. When I cancelled after 9 months of membership due to saving money to buy a house the manager literally told me “You know you are the first person to cancel.” I told her that was ridiculous and to please just cancel my account. They have decent facilities but it is a daycare as much as a gym.

  • Bobby Love

    The whole can’t refund, books closed thing!? There is a unscrupulous person on staff there and some enablers as well. They’ll never get my membership.

  • RCC_NoVA

    I was not impressed with Lifetime’s high-pressure sales tactics. That experience alone drove me to find an alternative.

    Very glad to see this kind of administrative runaround brought to light.

    It’s not how a company handles situations when things are going well, it’s how they handle the screw-ups that indicates their overall competence and commitment to good service.

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