CONSUMER ALERT: Joining a Health Club? Know Your Rights Before You Sign Up
ATLANTA—Attorney General Chris Carr is urging citizens to know their rights as the New Year creates an uptick in health club memberships.
In Georgia, health clubs are required by law to have contracts with their members; however, each individual entity can choose how long its contract lasts – from one month up to 36 months. Keep in mind that a shorter contract puts you at less risk in the event that you lose interest in your exercise regime or the organization goes out of business.
Make sure you get a written copy of the contract at the time you sign it and read it thoroughly. Under Georgia law, health clubs are required to include certain provisions in their membership contracts, including the length of the contract, the cost of the membership, the consumer’s right to cancel, an explanation of the cancellation process and the consumer’s rights and responsibilities in case of the onset of a physical disability or a significant change in the services offered by the health club.
You should also be aware that Georgia law allows a consumer to cancel a contract with a health club within seven business days. If a membership is canceled within that time period and in accordance with the terms in the contract, the health club should refund any payments made under the contract minus the fair market value of any services the consumer actually received (not to exceed $100).
After seven days have passed, you are bound to the terms of your contract, barring significant changes to your health or the offerings of the fitness center as mentioned above. If you wish to cancel your membership at that point, don’t just stop paying the monthly fee, as this could result in collection action being taken against you. Instead, contact the organization to let them know you wish to cancel your membership and see what options are available to you, if any. Should your signed contract fail to comply with the provisions required by law, you may legally cancel the agreement.
For more information about the legal requirements required of a health club, visit the Georgia Department of Law-Consumer Protection Unit’s website at www.consumer.ga.gov.