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Sunday, December 30, 2012 - 1:00am
EL PASO — Losing weight is among the most common New Year's resolutions. The Better Business Bureau advises consumers who want to lose weight to be cautious when signing up for gym memberships.
In the last 12 month period, consumers have filed 7,076 complaints compared to 5,130 for the previous 12 months or an increase of 38% in complaints with the BBB about health clubs. There has also been an increase in inquiries for this 12 month period; 242 compared to 219 for the previous 12 months or an increase of 10%. Many consumers had difficulty cancelling memberships or with billing disputes. Before you sign a contract at a new health club, the BBB advises you to consider your needs and your budget.
• Determine your fitness goals. It's hard work to lose weight, and you need to find a program you can stick with, and preferably one that you enjoy. Find a health club or exercise facility that is convenient and that offers times that fit your schedule.
• Visit the facility before joining. Check on cleanliness, adequacy of space, machines and instructors, and any other factors important to you. Ask if you can try the facility out before you join.
• Consider your budget. Ask the health club about "joining" or enrollment fees and ongoing monthly costs. Does a weight loss plan require you to buy special foods? Can you cancel if you move or find that the program doesn't meet your needs? If the facility closes, can you transfer your membership to another facility?
• Read the entire contract. Does it list all services and facilities and hours of operation? Is everything the salesperson promised included in the contract? What's included in the monthly fee and what will cost you extra? What is the total cost, including enrollment fees and finance charges?
• Check with the BBB first. Check a company's Business Review at www.bbb.org. Before beginning an exercise program or diet, the BBB advises consumers to consult a doctor for an assessment of over-all health risks. Get the doctor's recommendations on weight-loss options and/or exercise regimens that fit your health status and ability to stick with it. For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org.