Just like any other investment decision, choosing the right place to get in shape requires a little bit of leg work. If you are looking to join a health club or gym, consider the following information before you sign a contract.
Oregon law provides certain protections for consumers who use gyms, fitness facilities, tanning salons and what are commonly known as health spas (i.e., places that offer whirlpools, massage, steam rooms and saunas).
Pricing information. State law requires fitness clubs and health spas to provide a written list of prices for every service or plan that they offer and prohibits them from providing any plan or service not on the list.
Contract terms. Under Oregon law, contracts for the sale of health spa and fitness services must be in writing and include certain information, such as a description of the services provided, facility rules, the length of the contract and the cancellation policy.
Right to cancel. Consumers have a right to cancel fitness or spa services, without penalty, by delivering a written notice within three days of signing the contract.
Up-front payments. If a consumer pays money up-front and the facility fails to open on the expected date, the law requires a full refund to be issued within 10 days.
Despite these protections, DOJ continues to receive complaints from consumers who complain about high-pressure sales tactics, misrepresentations about the quality and nature of services, difficulty canceling their contract and clubs suddenly changing hands or going out of business.
DOJ offers a few tips that consumers can follow to make their health club experience worth-while:
- Shop around. Compare the services and prices offered by different companies and at various locations.
- Visit. Drop by the health club or spa during the hours you would normally use it; inspect the equipment you would use;
- Try before you buy. Some facilities offer free trial periods to prospective members so they can sample the services and equipment before making a decision.
- Budget. Ask whether there are initiation fees involved or if it costs extra for classes, fitness evaluations, personal training and other special services.
- Ask the right questions. What is the duration of the contract? When and how will you be billed? Is the membership transferable to other business locations? Do they offer discounts for family members, or credits for referring friends? What are your rights if the club is taken over by new management?
- Don’t be hasty. Before you sign a contract, take a copy home with you and read it through – carefully. Make sure you understand every term before you agree.
- Think ahead. As with any other membership, health club contracts can carry hefty cancellation fees. Find out what it will cost you if you terminate the contract prematurely, move to another area or sustain an injury. These details should all be in the contract.
- Background check. Find out whether other consumers have filed complaints against a particular health club or spa by searching Be InfORmed, DOJ’s online database of consumer complaints.
If you experience a problem you cannot resolve with a health club, complete an online Consumer Complaint Form or contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392.
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Applicable State Law: