Many Bostonians belong to health clubs, wellness centers, yoga centers or sports clubs while many others, at the very least, inquire about memberships. Did you know, in Massachusetts, there are specific legal protections for individuals who are considering joining a club and for those already members of these clubs and wellness centers?
Prospective members and members of health clubs, yoga centers, tennis clubs, sports clubs, diet centers, and martial arts studios enjoy special specific protections under Massachusetts’ consumer protection laws. A recent investigation by the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs discovered that several clubs in the greater Boston area are routinely violating these special consumer protection laws pertaining to health clubs. Therefore, it is important to know your rights as a perspective member or member of any wellness center or club.
In Massachusetts, these clubs and centers must clearly and conspicuously post on their premises all of their courses and membership prices, discounts, sales or offers. It is not valid for clubs to conceal prices and simply verbally tell you the prices upon an inquiry. In addition, consumers have a 3-day right to cancel health club contracts for any reason and receive a complete refund. Massachusetts’ law requires that this provision be included in the club contract. If it is not included and any other required provisions under Massachusetts law are missing then the contract is void and unenforceable.
Notably, consumers have rights to cancel a health club contract for a refund outside of the 3-day grace period and not have to pay a cancellation fee for the following reasons:
- You move your residence or your place of employment more than 25 miles from any club operated by the seller;
- Upon a doctor’s order, you cannot physically or medically receive the services because of significant physical or medical disability for a period in excess of three months;
- In case of your death; or
- The health club services promised are not available due to the failure to open a planned health club or location, closing of a health club or location, or substantial change in the operation of a health club or location.
Significantly, clubs cannot charge any cancellation fees for cancellations made for the reasons above.
Additionally, as a prospective member or member, you are protected against false advertising and misrepresentations. Also, review your credit card and bank statements closely as many people have issues with automatic billing once they cancel memberships.
If your rights have been violated, you may file a civil action in court to recover damages including possible triple damages, and attorney’s fees to the extent Massachusetts’ consumer protection laws have been violated.