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Tanning equipment from 11 abandoned Tan & Tone America locations up for auction

It appears the owner of the tanning and fitness chain, Ed Shelby, has moved away, but most of his former customers have been repaid by the bank.
by Jennifer Palmer Published: January 28, 2013

When the Tan & Tone America franchise abruptly closed in July after 26 years in business, members complained they had paid membership fees they now couldn't use. Some had spent hundreds of dollars on yearlong memberships or had the company automatically deduct monthly costs from their bank accounts.

The state Attorney General's Office has received 410 complaints since the locations closed, said Diane Clay, director of communications for the agency. Most were reimbursed by the business' bank, she said.

Former customer Merri Watson, however, said she still hasn't been reimbursed the $300 she paid for a yearlong membership and is disappointed. “I could really use that money now, especially at tax time,” she said. Watson, who filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office, has since joined another gym.

Shelby, 81, founder and owner of Tan & Tone America, was connected to the now-defunct International Fitness chain early in his career, a business that also went under and left hundreds of former members with worthless lifetime or long-term memberships.

That incident led to the Legislature passing the Oklahoma Health Spa Act, which prohibits contracts longer than 36 months.

Ironically, the law didn't apply to Tan & Tone America because it exempts facilities that operate solely for aerobics or toning.

Shelby has not publicly commented on Tan & Tone America's demise. He and his wife, Becky, sold their northwest Oklahoma City home in November for $250,000, records show. Phone numbers for the company's corporate office and his home are now disconnected. He is thought to be living in Austin, Texas.

by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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