“This is a time when many people are thinking about joining a gym, and that can be a great way to get in shape. We just want consumers to understand what they’re signing up for,” Attorney General DeWine said. “A little bit of prevention can go a long way.”
In 2017, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received about 140 complaints involving fitness or health club memberships. Top problem areas included cancellation and billing issues.
To help consumers avoid problems, Attorney General DeWine offered the following recommendations:
• Research the gym. Look for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or Better Business Bureau, and check online reviews for feedback from current or past customers. Pay attention to how a business addresses customer complaints.
• Read contracts carefully. Make sure verbal agreements are put in writing. Otherwise, they are not guaranteed.
• Watch out for extra fees. Determine the total cost of your membership. Find out if there are any extra fees for services like fitness classes or personal training. Also find out if payments will be withdrawn automatically from your account.
• Check the cancellation policy. Understand what you would need to do to cancel your contract and how far in advance cancellations must be made. Many contracts renew automatically, so be sure to check the total length of the contract. It should not exceed three years, according to Ohio law.
Under Ohio’s Prepaid Entertainment Contracts Act, consumers generally have three business days to cancel a contract for gym memberships and other “health spa services,” martial arts training, dance studio lessons, or social referral services (such as a dating service).
Consumers who want to learn more about their rights or those who need help solving a consumer problem should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.