Be aware of scams in New Year

Published 10:59 am Wednesday, January 7, 2015

One of the more commonly pledged New Year’s resolutions is losing weight or getting physically fit.

And what better way to achieve that goal than by joining a gym?

But many gyms and fitness centers require members to sign contracts and set up automatic fee withdrawals.

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The Ohio Attorney General recently reminded Ohioans the importance of making sure prospective gym members are getting exactly what they think they are paying for.

Last year the number of fitness center complaints more than doubled from the year before. Some of those common complaints were billing issues, refund or return issues and cancellation rights.

Before signing a contract with a fitness center, consumers should:

Search for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau;

Read the contract carefully and make sure verbal agreements are included in writing;

Determine the total cost, including any extra fees for fitness classes or personal training;

Find out if payments will be withdrawn automatically;

Understand the cancellation policy and whether the contract will renew automatically; and

Check the length of the contract. It should not exceed three years.

Joining a gym is an excellent way to stay healthy and meet those New Year’s goals, but consumers should treat those businesses just like any other and shop around to find a legitimate option.