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Caution to everyone before signing gym contracts

Posted at 5:48 PM, Mar 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-08 07:38:31-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - With the weather turning warmer now, many people are taking their workout outdoors and not going to the gym as much as they did in January.

Some people are also thinking of dropping that gym payment altogether.
January was gym sign up month.  March and April are gym quitting months, when people realize they are not using it as much as they had hoped.
But a big caution before you try to leave that club that had looked so appealing.
Emma Palella wanted to take some fitness classes so she signed a deal for a fitness club.  "It was like a New Years' resolution."
Emma says the owner told her if she didn't like it, she could cancel after 3 months. "He said I could quit whenever I wanted."
That's what she decided to do when the gym moved.  But Emma soon got a "punch" of reality when the gym kept billing her credit card.
"On the 15th, he charged me the full $128 again."
So Emma visited the gym, where the owner told me their contracts are clear.  If you want to break the contract early, you still have to pay half the amount you owe, which he was doing in her case.
Sandra Guile of the Better Business Bureau says many people get trapped this way when they want to get out of a contract.
"Find out what is included in that membership? How long that membership last? What if the gym closes or moves, what are the financial agreements?"
The BBB and the financial website says that before you sign any gym agreement:
  • Ask what penalties you'll face if you try to cancel early.
  • Don't believe verbal promises about classes, child care, or that you can cancel whenever you want.
  • Pay monthly by check or credit card: if you give a gym your checking account number, they can continue billing you long after you cancel.
Emma has a string of text messages from the owner telling her "no problem" if she wanted to cancel.  Turns out there was a problem, a big problem.
The bottom line...don't sign a gym contract until you know exactly what you are getting into.