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Sports: Fitness Club Memberships

(NC)-Good for you! You've decided to begin your New Year's Resolution by getting fit!. By all means, trim that waist - but don't waste your money while you're at it. Fitness club memberships can pose potential problems for consumers.

Choose your club carefully - ask questions and have a good look around. Dirty carpets and dingy washrooms spell trouble. Be wary of equipment that's "out of order." Visit the club during the hours you're likely to use it to be sure there's enough room for you and make sure the club's schedule fits yours.

By law, all new contracts are limited to one year, reducing members' losses if the club goes under. The law also prevents automatic membership renewal unless at least thirty days notice has been given, along with the opportunity to refuse the renewal.

"Common problems include billing after a member has quit, poor service, and undisclosed fees," says Rick Baldino of Ontario's Consumer Protection Branch. "All of these issues are addressed by Ontario's consumer protection law."

Above all, read the fine print in any contract. Make sure it includes all of the services you are expecting and make sure you understand all of the fees and how they are to be paid. Under Ontario's Consumer Protection Act, you have a ten-day cooling-off period in which you can cancel the contract. You don't need a reason to cancel.

If a club won't fix such problems voluntarily, members should consider filing a complaint.

For more information about fitness clubs and your rights under the Consumer Protection Act go to www.ontario.ca/consumerprotection or call 1-800-889-9768.

- News Canada

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