Hitting a New Gym? Sweat the Details Before You Join
New Yorkers whose resolutions for the New Year include joining a gym, should choose one carefully according to Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York (BBB). BBB urges consumers to get the most of their new gym memberships by shopping for a facility that best suits their needs and to read and understand all contract terms and conditions before they sign-up.
“We received over 1,020 complaints from consumers about gyms and health clubs during 2017,” says Claire Rosenzweig, President & CEO of BBB Serving Metropolitan New York, adding, “The majority of consumer complaints about gyms filed with BBB focus on contract disputes and billing issues.”
Consumers who turned to BBB claiming that gym salespeople made promises that never materialized noted that they would later find out that those promises were not included in the written contract and the fitness center refused to honor verbal agreements. BBB urges consumers to be sure that the contract includes all of the criteria noted by the sales staff as part of the gym membership.
Other problems reported to BBB involved consumers who either did not understand a gym’s cancellation policies or gyms that did not cancel contracts as requested. Contracts may require a certain number of days written notice of cancellation and/or automatically renew after the contract expiration date.
BBB Metro New York urges consumers to consider the following points when shopping for a new gym:
- Ask friends and family to recommend facilities, and select a few that align with your fitness goals and budget. Visit a club on a day and time that you plan to regularly use it to see if you like the equipment, clientele, classes, amenities and cleanliness.
- Consider your budget. Facilities may charge an up-front membership fee to join and a monthly fee thereafter. In addition, some fitness centers may charge an additional fee for classes or amenities.
- Carefully review any special offers. Gyms may have a special introductory offer to attract new members. Make sure you understand what the price will be once the introductory period is completed.
- Review the contract before signing. Make sure the contract lists all services and fees, and any verbal promises made by the salesperson. Find out what is included in the monthly fee and what will cost extra.
- How can you cancel a contract? Getting out of a gym contract isn’t always as easy as getting into one, so make sure you understand what steps you would need to take to cancel your membership. Some memberships may automatically renew and some clubs require specific steps to cancel a contract, often linked to a specific timing and method of submitting a cancellation.
- Avoid high-pressure sales tactics. Don’t ever be pressured into signing a contract. Be satisfied that you have all the details and that any verbal promises made are in writing and included in the contract. Request a sample contract to review before making a decision.
- What happens if you move? Gyms have any number of different policies when it comes to how moving will affect your membership. It often will depend on the distance you’re moving and if the club has other locations nearby.
- Make sure the club is bonded. New York State law requires certain health clubs to have a bond or other form of financial security to protect members in the event the club closes. For more information on what is legally required for health clubs, including specifics about bonding, prohibited forms of marketing practices, and disclosure requirements, go to the New York State Department of State website.
- Understand your rights to cancel your contract. New York State law gives consumers the right to cancel their health club contract within three business days after they receive a copy of the written contract. After that three day period, consumers also have the right to cancel their contract, without penalty, for specific reasons which are detailed at the NYS Department of State website.
- Research a prospective gym or health club and read any reviews at bbb.org.
About BBB Serving Metropolitan New York
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the regional, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. The BBB Serving Metropolitan New York was founded in 1922. Visit newyork.bbb.org or bbb.org for more information.