Olympics got you pumped to get fit? Things to know before joining a gym

September 13, 2012

Vancouver, BC - September 13, 2012 - After watching the world’s greatest athletes during the Olympics, consumers may be signing up with a gym or fitness club eager to get in shape. Better Business Bureau and Consumer Protection BC would like to remind consumers to know your rights and look for a club that fits your needs.

Most people who join health clubs are pleased with their choices, but it’s important to make informed decisions. Some consumers report problems with high-pressure sales tactics, misrepresentations of facilities and services, broken cancellation and refund clauses and lost membership fees as a result of spas or clubs going out of business.

The most common complaints received by the BBB consumers have focused on two areas, contract disputes and billing issues. Last year alone, BBB received 153 complaints related to fitness clubs. Consumer Protection BC gets many questions from consumers about their cancellation rights and is responsible for enforcing BC’s consumer contract law related to gym contracts.

Recently in Metro Vancouver, Fit City for Women closed its Richmond and Burnaby locations which may have affected hundreds of clients who may now to go other fitness locations. The Better Business Bureau and Consumer Protection BC advise consumers to consider the following tips before joining a fitness club:

Shop around. Compare clubs to find one that matches your interests and your budget. Check the company’s reliability report with the BBB before making a long-term commitment by visiting www.mbc.bbb.org or calling 604-682-2711 (1-888-803-1222 in the Interior).

Take your time. Give yourself time to make your final decision, and don’t cave in to high-pressure sales. A hasty commitment to take advantage of a limited time offer may cost you more in the long run. Ask about free trials, and see if you can sample the services and equipment before you buy.

Find out if the club is suitable for you. Make sure the hours and location are convenient, and that you’re satisfied that the staff is qualified and helpful. Find out what sorts of programs and fitness classes are offered to match your lifestyle, and if those programs are included in your membership fees or cost extra.

Carefully consider the contract. Take a copy home to read thoroughly before signing. Be sure to find out about your cancellation rights. Be cautious of clubs that pressure you to sign on the spot. Ask yourself the following questions:

- Does the contract list all services and facilities?
- What is total cost and payment schedule, including enrollment fees and finance charges? Do some services cost extra?
- How long is a membership term? A short-term membership may be more suitable for you. - Does the contract allow for a trial period?

A gym membership in considered a continuing service contract in BC. By law, you have 10 days, from date of signing, to cancel the contract in writing.

Many gym contracts are for two years. Consumers should also know that gym contracts can automatically roll over after two years. However after two years, the contract must be month to month and the consumer has the right to cancel at that time. Cancellation must be made in writing and given 30 days notice. A good tip is for a consumer to note when the two year contract expires and if they wish to cancel the contract, they should advice the gym 30 days before the contract ends. To find out more about your rights and responsibilities related to fitness contracts, visit www.consumerprotectionbc.ca or call Consumer Protection BC toll free 1-888-564-9963.