January Hot Topics

January 29, 2009

With 2009 in full swing, many people are looking to make the most of their New Year’s resolutions. Better Business Bureau reminds anyone looking to make changes in the New Year to be cautious and educated consumers by doing their homework at bbb.org. For those who pledge to start exercising more or who are looking for love, BBB offers these helpful tips:

Joining a gym?

  • Determine your fitness goals. What are your fitness goals (build endurance, increase strength, become a better tennis player?) and how will you accomplish them (swimming, weight-training, yoga?). If you have a serious health condition, consult with a medical professional when setting your fitness goals.
  • Consider your budget. What monthly amount can you comfortably devote to physical fitness?
  • Shop around. Ask friends and coworkers to recommend facilities and pick three that appear to align with your fitness goals and budget.
  • Check out the facilities. Visit each club on a day and time that you plan to use it to see how crowded it is. Is it conveniently located? Do you like the equipment, classes, amenities (child care, personal trainers) and hours of operation? Are you comfortable with the atmosphere and clientele? Note the cleanliness and condition of the equipment, work-out area and locker room, as well as staff member availability.
  • Talk to members. Are they satisfied? Have they experienced any problems?
  • Interview staff. Are staff members friendly and helpful? Ask about their qualifications, certification and education.
  • Review the contract. Walk away from clubs that pressure you to sign on the spot. In fact, take a sample contract home to read it thoroughly. Does it list all services and facilities and the hours of operation? Is everything that the salesperson promised in the contract? What is included in the monthly fee and what’s extra? What’s the total cost and payment schedule, including enrollment fees and finance charges?
  • Membership details. How long is the membership term? Can you go month-to-month? Some facilities give customers several days to reconsider after signing the contract; if so, get it in writing.
  • Cancellation policy. What are your cancellation rights if you move away, are injured, or the club closes? Will the unused portion of your membership be refunded? Those details should be in the contract

Finally, find out if the club meets state bonding and licensing requirements. And, always check with the BBB for a report on the facility before making a purchasing decision.

Looking for love online?

  • Don’t fall in love with the advertising. Beware of claims such as, an exclusive network of people, for sincere daters only, and beautiful singles just like you. Recently, BBB’s National Advertising Division provided a decision in a case between rival online services, requiring one to stop advertising that its methods were based on “the latest science of attraction.”
  • Do your homework. Checkout the company with BBB (bbb.org) to make sure it has a history of satisfying customers and resolving complaints.
  • Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics. Sales associates may tell people that a low price is only good for that day and ask them to sign a contract immediately. People should take the contract home, read it carefully and make sure they understand what they are signing up and paying for.
  • Know how to break up. Consumers should not assume that they will stop being billed once the contract runs out. Many online dating sites automatically renew memberships and there are steps that must be taken, such as calling the company, to keep from being billed again.