If you’re like many Americans, losing a few pounds might be on the top of your list of resolutions for this year. BBB reminds consumers to do their homework before beginning a weight loss regimen.
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.
“Joining a health club is a big decision”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “It is important that you visit the club and feel that it is a good fit for both your budget and your lifestyle”.
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 BBB first. Check a company’s Business Review at www.bbb.org.
Weight loss is also big business for con-artists. Americans are bombarded with advertisements for bogus weight –loss supplements, patches, creams, herbal teas or other products, making it one of the Better Business Bureau’s top rated scams.
BBB also reminds consumers to beware of products which claim they will help you to lose weight and provides the following advice:
- Be wary of products which promise to "burn," "block," "flush," or otherwise eliminate fat from your system.
- Watch for buzzwords like "breakthrough", ”revolutionary”, "exclusive", “free trial”, “guaranteed” or "miraculous" in advertisements. These are not scientific words and often appear in misleading promotions for fraudulent products.
- Be on your guard if claims are made which promise fast, permanent or easy weight loss or claims you can lose weight without exercising or making dietary modifications.
Before beginning any exercise program or diet, BBB advises consumers to consult with your physician for an assessment of over-all health risks.
For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org. To report a fraud or scam, call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373.