Health club closing, won't let me out of my contract

August 14, 2017

Dear Consumer Ed:

Last month I made an advance payment of $407 for a membership at a health club. I just received an email from the business stating they are closing down the location I joined and offering no refunds. I need to exercise daily as I am recovering from surgery, but I don’t think I should be expected to drive 12 miles to get to the next closest location. I have contacted the health club about this, but they refuse to let me out of my contract.

Consumer Ed says:

Consumers commonly complain about health spas and fitness centers that close or go out of business with little or no notice. Georgia law governs health spa memberships and requires health spas to make certain disclosures to its members. First, health spas are required to have contracts with their members that include information regarding the length of the contract. The contract can last for as little as one month or for as long as 36 months, but shorter contracts put consumers at less risk if the health spa closes or goes out of business. If you pay for services in advance and the health spa later closes, you might have to file an action through the court system to recover your costs, so it is advisable to pay monthly instead of signing a long-term contract.

In addition, your contract with the health spa must provide information about your right to cancel. Georgia law allows consumers seven business days to cancel a health spa contract.

You are also entitled to cancel your contract within 30 days from the time you knew or should have known of any substantial change in the services or programs available. This includes a health spa closing and not offering a substantially similar alternative location within ten miles of the original facility. If those circumstances apply to your situation, and the health spa did not allow you to cancel your contract within 30 days of learning that the location you joined is closing, you should consider consulting an attorney. You can also file a complaint with the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division by visiting www.consumer.ga.gov or by calling 404-651-8600. 

For more information about Georgia law regarding health spa memberships, visit www.consumer.ga.gov/consumer-topics/health-spa-memberships.  

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