Updated: Here is the response from Olympic Athletic Club:
The Club values all its members. While reports have focused on the Club’s new owner not servicing non dues paying memberships, the Owner is offering new memberships of value equal to / or greater than the original dollar for dollar purchase price paid for the memberships 30 years ago as compensation. To date, most people have been happy to sign up for the new memberships in the Club, which is undergoing significant new construction and renovation. We do recognize that some of our membership does not understand what we are offering. We are committed to resolve any issues in a friendly and agreeable way. It is our desire for folks holding a non-dues paying membership to come in, schedule an appointment, and give us a chance to amicably resolve any issues.
President Sewanee, Inc.
Earlier: Olympic Athletic Club is facing a legal battle after lifetime members learned that the club’s new owners would no longer honor their memberships.
In a letter sent last month by the club’s general manager Mark Durall, lifetime members learned that the club had been purchased and, as part of the purchase, they did not agree to service the lifetime memberships. “The lawsuit questions whether the purported sale was for the purpose of avoiding the club’s obligation to honor the lifetime memberships. Olympic Athletic Club was founded in 1979 by James and Debera Riggle. According to records on the Secretary of State’s website, the Riggles are officers in the company that is alleged to be the new owner of Olympic Athletic Club,” writes attorney Toby Marshall in a press release.
Marshall filed this Class Action Complaint for Injunctive Relief (.pdf) with the King County Superior Court for the plaintiffs John Ruebel, Tobi Goldman and Kevin Van Ness filed. “We allege Olympic Athletic Club’s refusal to honor lifetime memberships is unfair and deceptive. When our clients purchased memberships described as ‘lifetime’ and paid substantial compensation for those memberships, they had every right to expect the club would honor its contracts. Many lifetime members have been involved with the club since it first opened its doors, and their support has been crucial to the club’s success,” Marshall says.
Lifetime memberships were originally sold in the 1980s and cost as much as $5,000 each, the press release states. According to a contract that MyBallard has received, lifetime memberships could be willed, transferred or sold and clearly states that members would not ever pay dues.
Plaintiff John Ruebel says, “I have been a loyal member of Olympic Athletic Club for 30 years. I am extremely disappointed that one of Ballard’s longstanding businesses is breaking its promise to me and other lifetime members. You might expect something like this from a national chain, but not Ballard’s local health club.” (Disclosure: Olympic Athletic Club is a sponsor of MyBallard.)