Sunday, March 03, 2013

Joined a Health Club Lately?

Health clubs in Massachusetts are failing to comply with state laws requiring them to display membership prices and fees as well as failing to display a consumer's three-day right to cancel health club contracts according to state regulators.  In a press release issued on February 27, 2013 by the Mass. Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR), the violations were uncovered when the agency conducted a survey of 15 clubs in the Greater Boston area from December through January. 

The agency also found during their investigation, in addition to monthly fees, enrollement fees ranged from $25 to $149, annual fees ranged from $40 to $50, and termination fees ranged from $59 to $199.

“This is the busiest season for new health club memberships, with people trying to stick to their New Year’s resolutions,” said Undersecretary Barbara Anthony. “We want to make sure that, as with any other product or service you buy, consumers are aware of their rights and told the price and terms and conditions before signing any contracts. Our survey shows that health club consumers, through no fault of their own, may not know how much they’ll be paying.”

Anthony also stated: “Signing a contract for a health club should not resemble the old stereotype of purchasing a used car. The law requires complete up front disclosure of all prices and material terms and conditions. We found some troubling transgressions during the course of our investigation and will refer all alleged violations to the Attorney General’s Office.”

To assist consumers in choosing a health club to join, see OCABR's webpage: "Making Health Clubs Work for You."

For additional Mass. state laws on health clubs, see G.L. Chapter 93, Sections 78-88