As I understand it…WHQR’s Board called our ND (news director) and said that they WOULD do an interview to respond to this situation. No word on when though….

I saw that Star-News had a story yesterday that the Board had now made it public that the transmitter was coming in this week. It should be here today. Like I reported in my last post, I’m told that they will have to re-negotiate their contract with Brunswick Tower (this is also where WECT has our transmitter) before making that installation. I dont know how long that will take. Their last construction progress report to the government said that they expect the project to be completed by June 2009.


Port City Gym:

Yesterday I reported the follow-up to Port City Health Club’s sudden shut down. Our phone started ringing off the hook after the first report. I didn’t know what I’d have for you in the follow-up….it seemed that the owners had closed up shop and split town so I wasn’t sure there would be much more to tell you…

But after a phone call from a member yesterday…I got the phone number of co-owner Judi Nickels (wife of Charles Nickels). I didn’t expect anyone to answer…but she did…and she agreed to a phone interview. Judi is currently living in Massachusetts and she says she hasn’t been in our area in month’s…her husband had been running the place.

Like you heard in the report…there wasn’t too much that Judi could say about WHY the gym had shut down or WHERE her husband was. I called the Better Business Bureau to see if there was any background on the company…or on Charles. Here’s more from Kathy Graham, my investigative partner-in-crime from the Coastal Carolina BBB:

Kathy: “You have to be very careful, especially in these economic times.  If you notice something suspicious and sense something isn’t quite right, do yourself a favor and check it out.  We’ve gotten calls that the maintenance in this facility was not up to standards and that could certainly be a sign that a business is struggling financially.  Always read your contract and hesitate to pay for services up front like so many people did in this case.  Unfortunately, it’s going to be tough to get your money back.  There is strength in numbers so I recommend everyone file a complaint with the BBB (just go to www.bbb.org).  It may not get you money back, but it will certainly help in the process and the case against the owner”.


Kathy also offered some tips to finding a good fitness facility:

  • Determine your fitness goals. Specific goals need specific facilities (i.e. a pool for low-impact training). Price isn’t everything.
  • Consider your budget. What monthly amount can you comfortably devote to physical fitness? (Casey: also consider the “total” cost. Gyms often charge a “Registration/Sign-up” fee + monthly bill. Dont be seduced by a very low Registration fee…that comes with a higher monthly total. Add the (monthly fee * 12 months) to the Start-up fee and compare different gyms.)
  • Shop around. Ask friends and coworkers to recommend facilities and pick three that appear to align with your fitness goals and budget.
  • Check out the facilities. Visit each club on a day and time that you plan to use it to see how crowded it is. Is it conveniently located? Do you like the equipment, classes, amenities (child care, personal trainers) and hours of operation? Are you comfortable with the atmosphere and clientele? Note the cleanliness and condition of the equipment, work-out area and locker room, as well as staff member availability. (Casey: this is great advice! If you work out at 5pm and only 5pm…and you visit at 11am on a Sunday..you have no idea what the facility will look like when YOU will be using it. You’ll always get a tour when you inquire about membership. Look for the little things…is everything stocked (paper in the bathroom, cleaner for the machines, etc etc)? is there a line waiting for the machines that you like to use? is there a line for the showers? are there weights lying all over the place? Sounds obsessive but those are some of the things that can cause you to quickly fall out of love with the place that now has hundreds of your dollars bound into a contract….)
  • Talk to members. Are they satisfied? Have they experienced any problems?
  • Interview staff. Are staff members friendly and helpful? Ask about their qualifications, certification and education. (As a former personal trainer…I can tell you that every gym has different qualifications for trainer certification. ACE and NASM are two big names. I was ACE certified and I had to study an ENORMOUS book on anatomy and pass a 3 hour exam. Other certifications are “weekend” or online courses…you be the judge on their thoroughness…. Trainers are a great resource for learning new techniques and helping you reach your goals…but dont be afraid to ask a lot of questions about their background and training approach…you are trusting your well-being to them after all!)
  • Review the contract. Walk away from clubs that pressure you to sign on the spot. In fact, take a sample contract home to read it thoroughly. Does it list all services and facilities and the hours of operation? Is everything that the salesperson promised in the contract? What is included in the monthly fee and what’s extra? What’s the total cost and payment schedule, including enrollment fees and finance charges?
  • Membership details. How long is the membership term? Can you go month-to-month? Some facilities give customers several days to reconsider after signing the contract; if so, get it in writing.
  • Cancellation policy. What are your cancellation rights if you move away, are injured, or the club closes? Will the unused portion of your membership be refunded? Those details should be in the contract.

Finally, find out if the club meets state bonding and licensing requirements. And, always check with the BBB for a report on the facility before making a purchasing decision.


In my first report I included the contact information for American Service Financing. ASF blew up our phones after the report saying that members should not be calling them and that we gave the wrong information….ahem…Dear ASF…I called YOUR company and explained the situation and asked what (if anything…) members who had both a monthly or paid-in-full membership could do….YOUR representative gave the phone number that we aired and said that all member inquiries about their contracts and payments should be directed to that number.

ASF sent us an email saying that having to deal with all of Port City’s customer calls was hindering them from adequately serving other customers. I received phone calls from a few of you saying that you called the company and were basically blown off…sorry to hear that. I’m not sure why ASF gave me the member customer service number…for customers to call…and then retracted their ability to…answer customer questions…..


Judi told me that she has put a stop to the monthly drafts and that as soon as she can find someone to take over the gym…or take over the memberships…the money you paid will be transferred over with no additional cost.


As I understand it, when Peak Fitness closed down…Gold’s Gym absorbed the memberships. As a Gold’s member…I welcome you with open arms…just don’t take my elliptical machine in the morning…….


1 Comment

  1. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

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