Signing any kind of contract -- including one for a fitness club -- can be a stressful experience, according to Ellen Tucker of the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York.
"Don't be pressured to signing on the spot," advised Tucker. "If you want, you can take a copy home. Consider what type of refund or disability policy the contract has. What happens if you become pregnant?"
New York State's Health Club Services Law is one of the nation's best in safeguarding consumer rights, according to Tucker. It provides the following protections:
1) Limits health club contracts to $3,600 per year (excluding tennis and racquetball facilities) and to terms no longer than 36 months.
2) Provides consumers with a three-day right to cancel the contract after signing.
3) Provides the right to cancel the contract at any time for any of the following reasons:
*If the health club ceases to offer the services stated in the contract.
*If the consumer moves 25 miles away from any health club operated by the seller.
*If upon a doctor's order, the consumer cannot receive the services as stated in the contract because of significant physical disability for a period in excess of six months.
4) Requires health clubs to provide refunds within 15 days of cancellation.
5) Provides aggrieved consumers the right to sue in small claims court and receive an amount of not more than three times the actual damages plus reasonable attorney's fees.
-- Jane Kwiatkowski