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."