PhotoIt’s bad enough that a woman who signed up for a $6-per-month gym membership had over $1,000 drained from her bank account; what’s worse is that the gym tried excusing it by telling her they didn’t think she was a real person anyway.

Courthouse News broke the story of Kathleen Tester, who is suing a Minnesota gym called Fitness 19 for violation of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.

According to court documents, when Tester initially joined Fitness 19, she authorized the gym to withdraw $6 per month in membership fees. Then, “on or around July 15, 2013, defendant Fitness made two unauthorized withdrawals from plaintiffs' bank account in the amounts of $165.00 and $652.50, a total of $817.50.”

When Tester called the gym about this, she was told that Fitness 19 had “intentionally withdrawn the moneys from her account because it did not believe that she was a real person.” Because what better way to verify the authenticity of a bank account than to withdraw hundreds of times more money than you're supposed to, right?

Tester cancelled her contract with the gym, yet it continued withdrawing money until Tester’s account became overdrawn and she had to pay $105 in overdraft fees to her bank.

Overdraft fees

More details can be found in TechDirt’s coverage of the story: before going to court, Tester tried settling the matter with the gym. The money taken out of her account on July 15 was refunded three days later (and isn’t it funny, how false withdrawals can be made instantaneously, but refunding the money always takes a day or two?).  

A month later, after Tester had already cancelled her contract, the gym allegedly withdrew another  $165, resulting in $105 in overdraft fees. This time the gym took only one day to refund the $165, without offering any explanation why it withdrew the money in the first place. Nor has it explained why it consistently withdrew three-digit amounts of money when the most it was ever authorized to take in a given month was six dollars.

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