With so many people joining gyms as part of their New Year’s resolutions, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr wants Georgians to know their rights.
In Georgia, health clubs are required by law to have contracts with their members. But 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 customers at less risk in the event that they lose interest in their exercise regime or the organization goes out of business.
Carr urges customers to get a written copy of the contract 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.
Customers 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, customers are bound to the terms of your contract, barring significant changes to their health or the offerings of the fitness center as mentioned above. If they wish to cancel their membership at that point, Carr said not to just stop paying the monthly fee, as this could result in collection action being taken against the customer. Instead, they should contact the organization to let them know they wish to cancel their membership and see what options are available, if any.
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.