Riverside's 18% Price Hike Singles Out Members

And draws different stories from staff at the chain of health clubs

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Sports in Chiswick

Members of Esporta’s Riverside Health and Racquets Club are up in arms after the recently reopened facility announced a rise in membership fees from £165 to £195 per month.

However, the 18% price hike does not affect all memberships. “They are only increasing the fees for families or for debenture holders by £7,” one member told ChiswickW4.com “I have been told by a member of staff that this is because the families pay for swimming and tennis courses for the children whereas single members do not.”

She continued, “They only reopened in May of this year and I was told that the price was fixed for the year. When I telephoned them last week I was told by their Membership Manager that it was a "typo" error and the increase was only going to be £5. A day later I was told that the increase would be £30 a month.

“I am extra furious as I wanted to pay the whole year in advance and was asked by to pay by direct debit each month as they were ‘not sure of the opening date’.

New General Manager Stuart Jenkins told members that it was not Riverside who were raising the fees but their parent company Esporta.

“Many of the members are furious and some are leaving because of this.”

On the upside Esporta announced that it was passing on the new VAT changes directly to members. Starting immediately and with full effect from 1 January 2009, members at all their clubs will benefit from the reduction in VAT from 17.5% to 15%, which lasts until the end of 2009.

Last month administrators cancelled the sale of Esporta. Although David Lloyd was willing to buy the 20 racquet clubs including Riverside, the administrators failed to find another buyer for Esporta's less coveted fitness clubs like Chiswick Business Park’s. LA Fitness and Bannatyne Group both showed initial interest in the clubs, but the valuation of £40m proved too high according to a banker involved in the auction.

December 18, 2008