FAIRVIEW, N.J. -- A Fairview gym was one of 20 health clubs in New Jersey fined Thursday by state authorities for violating consumer protection laws.
World Gym of Fairview was assessed a $5,250 penalty by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs for failing to register the business and post information about consumers' rights.
“Consumers who pay for health club memberships deserve the assurance that they’re signing contracts with clubs that are properly registered and operating in accordance with the law,” said Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy. "We’re sending a message to them that we won’t tolerate such non-compliance.”
State law requires that all health clubs that devote at least 40 percent of their floor space to physical fitness services must register with the DCA and provide information about their ownership and operations.
The DCA, working with the state Division of Law, issued notices of violation to all 20 clubs for failing to register. The violations carry a total of $158,500 in civil penalties.
Those cited have options for responding: acknowledge the conduct, agree to comply with the law, and pay the assessed civil penalty; request a "mitigation conference" with DCA officials; or request a formal administrative hearing to contest the charges.
Before signing a health club contract or paying a deposit, consumers are urged to:
• Ask for the health club’s state registration number. Then visit the DCA website to verify that the club is actively registered;
• Call the DCA at 1‐800‐242‐5846 or (973) 504‐6200 to learn whether the health club has posted the security bond -- which assures it would be able to provide refunds to consumers should the company cease business or violate their contracts;
• Be sure to demand a written contract that clearly indicates the full amount you must pay. State law requires that all health club contracts must be in writing. The contract must "conspicuously set forth," on the contract’s first page, the buyer’s total payment obligation;
• Be sure to read the contract thoroughly and carefully before you sign. Be sure you are fully aware of the services you will receive, and that you understand all contract terms. After signing, you are entitled to a copy;
• Know your rights about cancellation. Under State law, the buyer may cancel a health club contract at any time within three operating days after receiving the contract. The buyer’s cancellation must be made in writing, by mail or personal delivery. After cancellation, the buyer is entitled to a full refund within 30 days.