WECT Investigates: Woman takes on fitness company and wins

WECT Investigates: Woman takes on fitness company and wins
Carmen Barnes is warning others about her experience with Fitness Blowout. (Source: WECT)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Sometimes, the little guy wins.

When a company tried to stick a Holden Beach woman with a $3,289 piece of fitness equipment after she'd canceled her order, she didn't just get her money back. She got UPS Freight worldwide to stop doing business with that company.

In this day and age, stories about people getting scammed are incredibly common. But Carmen Barnes' story stood out. Barnes says she spent 400 hours fighting a company called Fitness Blowout. Her hard work may spare other consumers a lot of trouble.

"I contacted the company just thinking I would discuss the piece of equipment," Barnes explained of finding fitnessblowout.com online while shopping for a body arc fitness machine. "Before the call was over I had been talked into purchasing it. Supposedly with a 24-hour no-risk return policy."

Carmen Barnes learned the horror stories about Fitness Blowout the hard way. After she'd placed her order, she researched Fitness Blowout online. The company also does business under the names Fitness Warehouses 4 Less and Exceleration Fitness.

"I looked up the company and immediately felt sick. There were hundreds, and hundreds and hundreds of negative reviews on the company," Barnes said.

Barnes called Fitness Blowout the very next day to cancel, but 45 days later she got a call from UPS attempting to schedule delivery for the equipment from Fitness Blowout. She refused to accept the shipment and while working with UPS, Barnes learned there were many customers who'd been forced to do the same thing when Fitness Blowout would not cancel their orders.

"The percentage of these pieces of equipment that were having to be redirected [because shipment was refused] was at such an alarming rate that it was unheard of. And that was what really threw up a red flag that there's something fishy going on with the account," Barnes explained.

Wilmington UPS Freight employee Omar Jones notified his superiors at UPS Freight Worldwide. Barnes says they notified her they were severing ties with this company, and sending undeliverable Fitness Blowout equipment in their warehouses across the country to salvage.

"When it worked out in my favor, I really felt like the little person can get their voice heard. And it is possible to get large companies, even global companies to listen to your voice. And it did reinstate some of what I had lost in humanity," Barnes said.

She later wrote the president of UPS Worldwide to applaud the efforts of UPS employees Omar Jones, Barb Hurley and Joe Geibler who worked with her to get this resolved.

Barnes also proved her case to her credit card company, and they reversed the $3,289 charge for the arc trainer.

We reached out to Fitness Blowout for comment. The woman who answered the phone said Steve Barzilai, the general manager who initially sold Barnes the equipment, no longer works for them. She said the company president, Jim Rosen, doesn't come into the office. We requested that someone in management call us back with a comment, but so far no one has.

UPS Freight Worldwide politely declined our request for an interview.

After this happened, Barnes also reached out to several other freight companies to warn them about this issue. Old Dominion Freight Line wrote her back saying they would no longer be picking up freight from this company.

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