Protect Your Wallet When Signing Up For Gym Memberships

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Those signing up for gym memberships as part of New Year’s resolutions are being offered tips to protect their wallet.

The New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection said people should be aware of gym fees that can become a burden and that many hidden non-refundable registration charges can lead to expending hundreds of dollars in fees for initiation, maintenance, and/or cancellation.

When signing up for a gym membership, people are urged to carefully review the contract before signing:

Read the fine print and be aware of any hidden fees that may come with it. While the advertised monthly fee may seem reasonable, gyms often include additional fees for things like initiation, cancellation, and maintenance. These fees can quickly add up and leave you with a much higher bill than you expected.

Be aware of add-ons:

Initiation or registration fees are typically non-refundable, so be sure the location and schedule are convenient to you.Look out for annual maintenance charges. Make sure to read the contract carefully and understand the terms regarding this annual surcharge.

Locker rentals are often not free, so ask ahead to plan where you’re going to keep your belongings. Some gyms require you to purchase your own padlock or locker assignment.

Termination fees are important to consider in case you need to cancel your membership. Make sure you understand the gym’s policies regarding termination to avoid any unexpected charges.

Premium classes and personal training sessions may come with additional charges. While the first training session may be offered for free, subsequent sessions will likely come at a cost. Be sure to ask about the hourly rate, understand the costs involved and inquire if/when prepaid training sessions expire.

Be sure to check the equipment requirements before attending a class to avoid any unexpected charges. Classroom extras such as yoga mats, steps, and stretch bands may require a rental fee if you don’t have your own equipment.

When it comes to canceling or renewing a gym membership, know your rights.

New York State law requires businesses with automatic renewal programs to disclose the terms of auto-renewal offers clearly and conspicuously, cancellation policies, and minimum purchase obligations. These terms must be stated when consumers are enrolling or signing up, close to the time of purchase.

A business that allows auto-renewal must also provide simple user-friendly cancellation options for consumers to make it easier to unsubscribe or cancel memberships. They must provide a toll-free telephone number, email address or other cost-effective, timely, and easy-to-use option for consumers to cancel after agreeing to a contract. Consumers who purchase these services online must be allowed to terminate the agreement online.

Additionally, businesses must provide consumers with an acknowledgement that outlines the terms of any auto-renewal offer and, if the original offer includes a “free” trial offer or gift, information on how the consumer can cancel the service before they pay for goods or services.

If you believe a company is not following the law when offering recurring services or free gifts, consumers should file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Protection at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection.

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