I am the owner of Fitness Fanatics-Martial Arts and Conditioning Studio in Santa Rosa, CA. This is a complaint regarding MEMBERSHIP BILLING SYSTEMS, INC. (MBS) formerly known as Winmars Billing Systems. I contracted them to administer my client automatic billing. This was supposed to make my business run smoother…but instead, has been a nightmare—costing me money, loss of students and aggravation. As of this complaint MBS owes Fitness Fanatics approximately $3000 in tuitions collected from my student and NOT passed on to me. The most recent incident that forced me to terminate my business with MBS was their change in billing methods (which seems to me, a breach of contract). They were no longer accepting EFT (electronic funds transfers) payments by use of electronic checks and MUST ONLY BE A CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD. I was told this was due to their decision to change banks. The problem was that most of my students were initially signed up with EFT. MBS made a random robocall attempt to contact my students which 1.) sounded like a telemarketing call 2.) never mentioned the name of MY business that they would be familiar with. I was also told a letter was sent out but, again, since the student wasn’t familiar with the company name, it looked like junk mail. The name change to MBS from Winmars could be a contributing factor since my students knew them as Winmars. As a result of their failed attempt to properly contact and communicate with my students, MBS could not collect the fees and then considered them delinquent so that they could charge them late fees. The few students I had that were on a Debit/Credit Card payment that were paying on time now, MBS decided to take the delinquent fees out of my earned income collected and was later notified that I was in the NEGATIVE. Due to the lack of communication by MBS, the impact of the financial and collections issue took a couple of months since I had no idea what was going on. After numerous attempts to speak with a live person, when I finally did get a call back, months later, I spoke with the owner, Rick Stephan and he told me I could not terminate my relationship with them without 90 DAYS NOTICE! If I gave them 90 days notice, I would be without income for an additional 90 days….I pointed out and reminded Rick Stephen that HE was the one who made these changes without proper notification and was now in breach of his own contract. All of my students are on month to month contracts NOT ON TERM CONTRACTS. Yet, MBS continues to bill them even though they’ve been cancelled in writing by me. When the student would call and complain that the money was still being collected they were told that they needed to give an “additional 30 days notice” to cancel because they changed their rules again??? In addition to the above billing issues, they have had other questionable business ethics and practices. 1.) When I would put a student on hold that was taking a break, if that student didn’t come back within a certain period of time, MBS would charge ME a $60 cancellation fee. 2.) If there were insufficient funds in a student’s account, they would charge ME a $30 fee rather than the student. In one particular year after a careful audit of my account I learned that I paid $3000+ in junk charges and fees. 3.) MBS is also in the habit of not paying their clients on time. I was supposed to receive a check twice a month that should have been mailed on the 1st and the 16th of each month. I was constantly having to call and hunt down my check. A favorite response would be…”It’s in the mail”. Upon closer inspection of the checks when they would finally arrive, they would be dated weeks later than what was agreed and contracted. Ironically, on two different occasions their check to me bounced due to insufficient funds. 4.) When cancelling student’s billing, I was required to send a fax to MBS (which I ALWAYS DID) even though they would continue to collect the fees past the 30 days required notice to cancel causing me to have to give my student’s 100% of their refund even though MBS took their collection fees out of my account. Membership Billing Systems clearly lacks honesty, integrity and basic business ethics. I should have terminated my business relationship long ago but the switching over of numerous students and finding another billing company was going to be a long, drawn out and inconvenient process. In my 28 years in this industry, working with billing companies, I have seen 3 billing companies go out of business. My new business philosophy is “You can drown beneath the waters of the bridges you have burned”. (karma) .
This complaint and/or review was posted on HolySmoke.org on 16:04 pm, October 13, 2019 (CST) and is a permanent record located at: https://www.holysmoke.org/scam/membership-billing-systems-inc-review/.
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