Better Business Bureau Recommends Consumers Exercise Caution Before Signing a Contract. Consumers have filed more than 7,800 complaints against health clubs with Better Business Bureau over the past year. BBB offers tips to avoid problems and get the most from a membership.
Planning to lose weight is often a part of ringing-in the New Year when the holiday season comes to an end. However, Connecticut Better Business Bureau recommends consumers who want to diet or get into shape should be very cautious when signing-up for exercise programs and gym memberships.
In the last 12 months, consumers nationally have filed 7,823 complaints with BBB about health clubs. Many of these show that consumers had difficulty canceling memberships or billing disputes.
Before you sign a contract at a health club, BBB advises you to do your research, and consider your needs and your budget:
Determine your fitness goals – It’s hard work to lose weight, and you need to find a program you can stick with and preferably one that you enjoy. Find a health club or exercise facility that is convenient and that offers times that fit your schedule.
Visit the facility before joining – Check on cleanliness, adequacy of space, machines and instructors and any other factors important to you. Ask if you can try the facility out before you join.
Consider your budget – Ask the health club about “joining” or enrollment fees and ongoing monthly costs. Does a weight loss plan require you to buy special foods? Can you cancel if you move or find that the program doesn’t meet your needs? If the facility closes, can you transfer your membership to another facility?
Read the entire contract – Does it list all services and facilities and hours of operation? Is everything the salesperson promised included in the contract? What’s included in the monthly fee and what will cost you extra? What is the total cost, including enrollment fees and finance charges?
Check with BBB first – Check the gym’s Business Review at http://www.ct.bbb.org/ to see if there is a pattern of consumer complaints.
Before beginning an exercise program or diet, BBB advises consumers to consult a doctor for an assessment of over-all health risks. Get the doctor’s recommendations on weight-loss options and/or exercise regimens that fit your health status and ability to stick with it.