Former GJ Athletic Club Members Looking For Answers After Losing Out on Hundreds of Dollars

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

The Grand Junction Athletic Club shut its doors for good in March, but a new controversy surrounding the failed business is just opening up. Some members say they gave the club hundreds of dollars in prepaid dues and were told they would get it back. But they haven't seen a penny.

"It's just a big frustration," said Duncan Bremner, a former GJAC member.

Earlier this year Bremner and his girlfriend decided they wanted to join the Grand Junction Athletic Club. He says they spent more than $800 on a prepaid, year long membership -- less than two weeks later, they got a letter from the club telling them it was going to close and explaining what their options were.

"We could move to the new club if we wanted to and if we did not want to do that, she would return the money that was prepaid," said Bremner.

Bremner says the new club didn't have what he was looking for in a gym, so he made the decision to cancel his membership. He thought the letter made it clear he was going to get his money back -- but then another letter came.

"She signed her name saying she would reimburse us and now she's saying she's not going to," said Bremner.

This letter, written by Grand Junction Athletic Club Receiver Vicky Thurlow, told him the club did not have funds to pay its unsecured creditors, a category he fell into as a prepaid member, and that there would "probably be no refund in your prepaid membership unless you can collect it from GJAC Inc.'s owner."

"She has our money and we have no recourse," said Bremner.

When 11 News contacted Vicky Thurlow, she declined an on-camera interview but did address the situation in a lengthy statement.

Thurlow, who sold the Grand Junction Athletic Club five years ago, became the court appointed receiver of the property last November, after its owner failed to make payments to creditors, one of which was her.

She says, "I along with a dedicated staff did our best to try to bring the business back to life but unfortunately it was too far gone."

In response to Bremner and other former customers, she had this to say:

"I realize there is a small number of people who prepaid membership to GJAC Inc and that these people are upset, as we all are, who have money owed to us by GJAC Inc. These people did in fact though sign a contract stating that their membership was non-refundable and non-transferable. While I was in receivership GJAC had good intentions to pay them back, but it failed and there simply was no money."

Thurlow adds she offered to let those members work out at her new club, The Edge, double the time they had left at the Athletic Club. But Bremner says that's no excuse if she knew the Athletic Club was in financial turmoil.

"She should've been forthright and let us know that before we signed up for a year," said Bremner.

Now, he's weighing his options.

"I'm going to be notifying the Better Business Bureau and I'm looking at legal actions to see what could be done," said Bremner.

The Better Business Bureau says it has no previous records of complaints against Thurlow or the Grand Junction Athletic Club -- but after a recent rash of calls on this issue, it plans to contact the parties involved and see if it can help find a solution.

Thurlow wants to remind all residents that even though the Athletic Club has been shut down, the Spa and Salon are still open at the 25 Road and Patterson location.

Read Thurlow's entire statement below:

"In regards to the story you are doing here is my statement:

I have not been the owner of the Grand Junction Athletic Club since July 2004. In November 2008 I was appointed "receiver" by the court due to the fact that the owner of the GJAC was failing to make payments to creditors. My role was to try to make the business work. I along with a dedicated staff did our best to try to bring the business back to life, but unfortunately it was too far gone and it closed the end of March 2009.

I realize there is a small number of people who prepaid membership to GJAC Inc. and that these people are upset, as we all are, who have money owed to us by GJAC Inc. and Brad Willms. These people did in fact though sign a contract stating that their membership was non-refundable and non-transferable. While I was in receivership, GJAC had good intentions to pay them back, but it failed and there was simply no money; thus the doors closed.

I, on the other hand, have opened a new training and fitness center on Horizon Drive and even though I have no legal obligations to GJAC Inc. or its creditors, I have offered those people the opportunity to work out at my business called the Edge double the time they had left with the Grand Junction Athletic Club with no additional fees.

The Spa and Salon is still open and doing well and is still located at it's same location at 25 Road and Patterson."

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Mary Location: Grand Junction on Oct 31, 2009 at 08:04 PM
    I took Thurlow to small claims court and lost. You see, it is perfectly legal to LIE in order to profit yourself. I had no recourse. She represented herself as the owner (LIED) then took $450 for a year long membership from me, and closed the doors 1 month later - even gave me a signed "refund" rec't. Everyone should take her to court and have her get out of her cozy little world and force her to listen to the truth. Do not buy her book. It is trash and full of further lies. I don't know how she can wake up and look in the mirror.
    • reply
      by SAMANTHA on Nov 14, 2011 at 01:25 PM in reply to Mary
  • by Melissa Location: Grand Junction on May 15, 2009 at 10:43 AM
    I'm sorry to read about all the people who have lost money from the Athletic Club membership. It's not right. Neither is selling a $100.00 gift certificate to my son the day before Mother's Day knowing the spa and salon would be closing. Surprise, their website and phones are offline. Where's the honor?
  • by former employee Location: grand junction on May 13, 2009 at 04:24 PM
    Vicky is full of it. As a former employee I can say that we too were lied to and deceived, and I am very angry. She is a gutless person without a conscious and I don't know how she sleeps at night. are a better person than that. Trust me, you don't want to be associated with Vicky. Open your eyes to what's going on and make a better choice for your life. I really think those of you who have lost your money should set up a a date, time, and location to meet and bond together with a lawyer who will work with you for free or a reduced price and hold Vicky Thurlow accountable. She knowingly sold memberships (PREPAID ones) when she knew she was going to be leaving there and that is NOT ok. She needs to be held legally and financially responsible.
  • by Don Location: Grand Junction on May 13, 2009 at 04:07 PM
    Well I'm also among those of you who, in my opinion, have been ripped-off by Thurlow. I likewise chose to have a refund as the Edge is a little dull for my interests. There is no substantial comparison between the old and new facility as the amenities are grossly different. What I paid for and what she is offering are a joke. I refuse to walk away and let this person run free with my money! While we may not get it back, don't just lie down and take it. Her teflon coating can't last forever. Small claims court, Class action, personal picketing, handbilling, billboards calling her out, are all possibilies. I would not look for the local newspapers, the Bettter Business Bureau or the Chamber of Commerce to be of any help. Collectively, however, we can have a field day with her. Get names, telephone numbers and email addresses together and let's start contacting each other. There must be a lawyer out there who would look at this situation and tell us if there is a case worth taking.
  • by Anonymous on May 13, 2009 at 07:58 AM
    To bad the book she claims to be so "great" was just plagerized from another source. It would appear all she does is tainted.
  • by Becky Location: GJ on May 12, 2009 at 09:42 AM
    The sad story is that we worked with Steve and Vickie to get a membership for our children that are in foster care. They worked out a deal for us on 2/6 if we would pay a full year membership. All the youth that we take care of pooled their recreation money for the year together so that they could enjoy the use of the club. We paid the full year and the youth began to enjoy working out. Then we receive the news that they are closing. We requested a refund because the new facility would not provide anything for the youth. We were assured by Debbie in accounting that we would receive a refund but were questioned about the county paying for it and maybe they would reimburse us. We assured her this was not the case and were reassured that Vickie would make good on the $1500 owed to us. After calling to check on payment we received out letter stating no refunds. This seems wrong to take youth's money. Now they have no funds for recreation. Would like to get with others to file.
  • by Fred Location: Grand Junction on May 11, 2009 at 06:55 PM
    The Spa and Salon and the Athletic Club are all under the same corporation. She carried the loan for the entire purchase after the money she and her husband Dan received as a down payment. She technically owned the corporation the whole time as a private loan holder. They are responsible for all debts of the corporation. When (if) your local lawyers figure this out, they will have a hay-day!
  • by Anonymous on May 10, 2009 at 01:41 PM
    "Steve" should understand that people are responding to the promises that were made by Ms. Thurlow. Obviously she never had any plan to pay these people back. I find it really hard to believe that at the time that the above-mentioned Duncan Bremner signed his year long contract, Ms. Thurlow did not know she was closing the Club down. This sounds like misrepresentation to me. Also, how is it that the Spa is not responsible for paying any of these people back...Is it not part of Ms. Thurlow Athletic Club?
  • by Katie Location: GJ on May 9, 2009 at 08:59 AM
    If you signed a prepaid contract with GJAC you have agreed to the services they provide. The Edge DOES NOT provide those same services -- your contract "should be" void and your money refunded. She does have the money to refund these prepaid memeberships and in keeping with good faith in this community she needs to take care of her former clients. What comes around goes around. I think those that do not receive their refunds should get together with the season ticket holders of the Cabaret that were stiffed and file lawsuits. How this businesses close their doors and then reopen as another entity and expect people to support them again is beyond my comprehension!
  • by Kyle Location: Grand Junctio on May 9, 2009 at 07:52 AM
    Nice to see that Vickie is providing an allternative place to go for all of the former clients of the Horizon Drive Oriental Massage Parlor!
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