Educational Consumer Tips
Better Business Bureau
Don’t sign a contract with any blank spaces that could be filled in later. Make sure that any oral promises (for example, about equipment to be added in the future) are written on the contract and initialed by both the clubs representative and you. The contract cannot require you to make payments totaling more than $3,000.00 (excluding interest or finance charges).
If the total amount of your contract, including membership fees, is $1,500 - $2,000, you have 20 days to cancel; if it is $2,001 - $2,500, you have 30 days to cancel. Any contract totaling more than $2,501 may be canceled within 45 days. You must be given a copy of the signed contract. A contract that fails to comply with these requirements is unenforceable. If you can show in court that the contract you signed violates the law, the judge can award you up to three times the amount of damages you suffered plus a reasonable attorney’s fee if you have hired an attorney.
If you sign an installment sales contract (you agree to pay a certain amount each month for a specific number of months), you must continue making payments even if you stop going to the facility. You will only be legally excused from paying if you become disabled or move, or if the club closes. You may also lose your investment if you switch facilities. Sometimes facilities offer a discount if you pay in advance for a long-term membership of up to three years. You may lose your investment under this type of agreement if the facility closes or if you stop using it.
If you have an installment sales contract, and the health club closes, you can stop making your regular payments. If anyone attempts to collect the balance, see a lawyer. If you have borrowed money from a lender (for example, a bank or a credit union) to pay your membership fees, you may still have to continue payments; you should verify this with your lawyer. If your payments are being automatically deducted from your checking account, you should immediately contact the financial institution and tell them to stop making payments. You must notify the financial institution at least three business days before the scheduled date of the transfer. You can give the notice orally, but some financial institutions can require written confirmation. If you give notice orally and the financial institution requires written confirmation, your oral notice expires on the 14th day.
If you have a problem, contact the facility’s manager or owner if you have a problem at the club. If you are still unable to resolve the problem, contact: Your local consumer protection agencies (look in the yellow or white pages of your telephone directory under “consumer”); Contact your local Better Business Bureau; or The California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Public Inquiry Unit, and online at http://caag.state.ca.us/consumers or by phone at (800) 322-3360.