Consumer Advocate

Sign up for newsletters and other news
Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > January 2016 > Keep your guard up when fulfilling New Year’s resolutions

Consumer Advocate RSS feeds

Keep your guard up when fulfilling New Year’s resolutions

The beginning of a new year is the traditional time for people to work toward a healthier lifestyle. If that is your aim this year, be sure to protect yourself as a consumer while fulfilling 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 if 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 signing up for a gym membership. As with all contracts, you should read the entire contract to make sure 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, under Ohio law, you generally have three business days (excluding Sundays or legal holidays) to cancel your contract in full at no cost to you. 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.
Also look out for “negative option” contracts. Under negative option contracts, consumers are automatically reenrolled 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. This makes it difficult for the consumer to remember to cancel the contract in time to avoid the annual membership fee.
Dietary supplements also have become popular in the weight-loss industry and often are touted as a quick and easy solution to a difficult health problem. While these supplements may be advertised as having fast results, it is important to research products before trying them. (Look online for reviews from others who have tried the product, detailing if the product worked for them, and check for any scientific research conducted on the product.) Most importantly, 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 healthcare professional before making a purchase.
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