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With the holiday season fast approaching, and the New Year soon after, many consumers are already starting to consider health club memberships as part of their 2015 resolutions.  Last year, our office surveyed local health clubs and found that getting a good deal on health club memberships can be trying. The survey showed that many health clubs in Massachusetts do not comply with state disclosure laws. In fact, all of the health clubs surveyed failed to display membership prices and fees in accordance with state law.

It is critically important that consumers know what they are getting into before they sign a contract with a gym.  There is no better advice than to take your time, do your homework and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are some details of state disclosure laws that every consumer should understand before entering into a contract:

  • It is not legal for a health club to ask customers to sign a liability waiver in the event that they injure themselves. Not only is this sort of waiver illegal, but it is void in court even if it has been signed.
  • Under Massachusetts law, health clubs must clearly post all of their courses and prices, discounts, sales and offers. Health must also clearly display a notice that customers are entitled to a three-day grace period where memberships can be cancelled.
  • Health clubs are allowed to charge a membership cancellation for cancellations outside of the three-day grace period. Our 2013 survey found that some cancellation fees were as high as $200. Therefore, it is important that consumers find out all information about membership pricing and research the club’s reputation before getting into a contract.

If you think a health club has violated state disclosure laws, we want to hear from you. The Consumer Hotline can be reached at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757 for further questions Monday through Friday from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly.

Consumers should also file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and with the Better Business Bureau.

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