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As Closures Approach 30 Days, AG Shapiro Reminds Gyms of Legal Responsibilities To Members

April 3, 2020 | Topic: Consumers

Demands Refunds for Unused Services, Asks For Flexibility in Gym Membership Cancellation Policies Amid COVID-19 Emergency

HARRISBURG― Attorney General Josh Shapiro is today reminding health clubs and gyms in Pennsylvania of their obligations under the Health Club Act regarding the closure of their facilities for more than 30 days.

A health club or gym that is closed for more than 30 days is obligated to provide refunds to consumers who cancel their memberships under Pennsylvania’s Health Club Act. To receive a refund under the law, members need to send a letter confirming their cancellation to their health club or gym through certified mail or in person. For the health and safety of staff and customers, Attorney General Shapiro is asking gyms to accept cancellations by email, phone, or regular mail due to the Commonwealth-wide closures of brick-and-mortar health club facilities.

Shapiro is also calling on all facilities that provide health club services in Pennsylvania to stop billing members while the facilities are shut down, and to freeze the charges of their accounts at no charge to the members while Pennsylvania addresses this emergency.

“Consumers in Pennsylvania have legal protections when it comes to health club memberships, and we enforce those laws. Members should not be charged for services not provided and should have the ability to cancel membership services they cannot use during this pandemic,” said Attorney General Shapiro.“Private gyms and health clubs need to stop charging fees for services they cannot provide until the public health emergency is over.”

Many gyms in Pennsylvania have already met or exceeded these legal requirements. One national health club, L.A. Fitness, has already announced their plans to suspend billing members until the COVID-19 emergency has ended.

“We are committed to standing with the Office of the Attorney General as they seek the support from leaders in the Health Club Industry to respond with grace and understanding towards their members, particularly during this pandemic,” said Jill Greuling, President of L.A. Fitness Club Relations. “Most significantly, we stopped billing members March 26 and put everyone on a complimentary freeze.  We have also waived the legal terms under the Pennsylvania Health Club statute that require a member to cancel by (1) sending in a certified letter or (2) delivering a letter to the club and instead, allow members to cancel by calling us or by emailing us—but we ask for patience as we are doing our best to respond with the staff on hand.”

Attorney General Shapiro also clarified that these health clubs cannot decline a cancellation request on the basis that they have offered a “comparable facility” or service in the form of access to virtual, online classes.

Health clubs in violation of the Health Club Act could be subject to penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation and $3,000 for each violation involving a consumer age 60 or older.

Consumers who wish to file a complaint about their gym to the Office can submit a form at https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint/.

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