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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > December 2020 > Watch Out For False Promises When Fulfilling New Year’s Resolutions

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Watch Out For False Promises When Fulfilling New Year’s Resolutions

The beginning of a new year is traditionally the time for people to work toward a healthier lifestyle, but be sure to protect yourself as you seek to fulfill your resolutions.

If joining a fitness center is part of your plan, search complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the local Better Business Bureau to determine whether customers have been satisfied with the gym’s services. Common complaints include fitness centers closing without notice, overcharging for services or not clearly explaining cancellation rights. 
Typically, you will be asked to sign a contract when joining a gym. As with any other contract, you should read it completely to be sure that you understand all the terms and conditions and to ensure that any promises made by a salesperson are included in the contract.
Under Ohio law, gym membership contracts generally should not last longer than three years. Also, regardless of the gym’s cancellation policy, Ohio law generally provides you three business days (excluding Sundays or legal holidays) to cancel your contract in full at no cost after an initial sign-up. Before signing the contract, ask about the facility’s cancellation policy, and determine what your responsibilities are if you decide to end the contract early. This is especially important in the wake of COVID-19. Some gyms may continue to charge even if the gym is closed; others may not. Get those details in writing.
Also, look out for “negative option” contracts. Under such contracts, consumers are automatically re-enrolled at the end of their current contract and money is automatically charged. For example, a gym might automatically renew an annual membership by charging the consumer’s credit card for the entire next year when the first year is about to expire. Such a policy makes it difficult for the consumer to remember to cancel the contract in time to avoid the new annual membership fee.
Dietary supplements also have become popular in the weight-loss industry and often are touted as a quick, easy solution to a difficult health problem. Although these supplements may be advertised as yielding fast results, you should take time to research products before trying them. Look online for reviews from others who have tried the product, detailing whether it worked for them, and check for any scientific research conducted on the product. Most important, keep in mind that some supplements have been shown to cause harmful side effects. To avoid potentially dangerous products, check with your doctor or other trusted health-care professional before making a purchase. Also, beware of any email or website claiming to have a vaccine or supplement to cure the COVID-19 virus.
If you suspect a scam or unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-282-0515 or visiting