BBB: Health club complaints climb for second year

Online Staff Report

Every year, the No. 1 resolution made by individuals is to get in shape. That’s a boon for health clubs, but can be a boondoggle for those who choose to join.

In the past two years, national complaints have grown 20 percent, topping 8,000 last year alone. The complaints range from billing and collection issues to overall unhappiness with the contract.

The number of complaints filed show that the negative issues that surround gym memberships show no sign of change,” said Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). “Picking the best gym or fitness center for your personal interests can be a difficult choice, so check each one’s rating on the BBB website. It’s important to do careful research before making a final decision and signing on the dotted line.”

Five questions to ask the gym:

1. What are the terms of any introductory offers? Gyms often use special introductory offers to lure in new members. Make sure you understand the terms and what the price will be once the introductory period is over.

2. Will my membership renew automatically? Many times, people who join a gym don’t realize that their contract renews automatically and that they would have to take specific steps to cancel their contract. 

3. How can I get out of my 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.

4. What happens if I move? Gyms have any number of different policies when it comes to how moving will affect your membership. It might depend on how far away you’re moving and if they have other locations nearby.

5. What happens if the gym goes out of business? Ask the gym to explain what will happen to your money if they suddenly close down.

Five questions to ask yourself when looking at potential gyms/health clubs:

1. What are my fitness goals? Determining your fitness goals in advance will help you select a facility that is most appropriate for you. If you have a serious health condition, consult with a medical professional when setting your fitness goals.

2. Is this location convenient? If the gym is across town, you’ll be less likely to work out. Choose a fitness club that is convenient to work or home so the location is not a deterrent to getting exercise.

3. Can I really afford this every month? Monthly gym fees add up, and after any introductory periods are over, the price could jump higher than your budget can handle. Do the math before you join and make sure you can afford a gym membership.

4. Am I feeling pressured to join? Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, and make an informed decision.

5. Did I get everything in writing? Read the contract carefully and make sure that all verbal promises made by the salesperson are in writing.  What matters is the document you sign, so don’t just take a salesperson’s word for it.

Visit www.bbb.org for more information.

Posted Dec. 31, 2014

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