Ditch the Pitch
COLUMBIA, S.C. – It’s a new year which means many South Carolinians are motivated to get fit. The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) is offering tips for consumers looking for a gym to join in 2019. Before signing on the dotted line, consider the following:
1. Background the business. Gyms must file with SCDCA to operate. Visit www.consumer.sc.gov and click Background a Business to find licensed gyms and to search our complaints. A simple internet search can reveal if a business is complained about regularly, too.
2. Shop around. The new year is prime time for gyms offering deals. Check out what different gyms are offering in your area, including equipment, amenities and pricing. Choose which one best suits your needs and budget.
3. Read before you sign. Read a gym contract, especially the fine print, before you sign. Make sure you know what services are included, whether the price quoted is for a limited time and other terms and conditions of the membership. Contracts may include charges for child care, aerobic classes and other “extras.” Always try to negotiate the best price before signing.
4. Know the automatic renewal clause. Some gym contracts have automatic renewal clauses. To be valid, you must “opt-in” to the renewal and be reminded of it 30 days prior to the end of the contract. The club is not allowed to renew the contract and continue to draft payments if you do not respond to the offer. How do you spot them? Automatic renewal clauses are often placed in the contract’s fine print and may be called “tacit renewals” or use wording like “continuous,” “at current rates” or “until I cancel.”
5. Can you cancel? Know the penalties of cancellation before you sign! If a contract lasts more than three months or the cost is over two hundred dollars, you can cancel it without penalty: (1) within three days of signing, (2) if you move at least 50 miles away, or (3) if you develop a physical disability or pass away.
Want more information on your rights when it comes to gyms? Visit www.consumer.sc.gov and click Health and Fitness under the Consumer Resources tab. If your gym doesn’t follow the rules listed above, file a complaint with SCDCA by visiting the website above and clicking FILE A COMPLAINT.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs aims to protect consumers from inequities in the marketplace through advocacy, complaint mediation, enforcement and education. To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free, 1 (800) 922-1594.