HEALTH AND FITNESS CLUBS
As more companies have become involved in the lucrative fitness industry, problems with health spas in Missouri have grown.
Some health and fitness centers have closed without warning members while others never opened for business after taking consumers' money for memberships.
The Attorney General's Office receives hundreds of complaints each year about health clubs suddenly closing or not providing promised services and facilities. To fight back, the office has filed lawsuits against health clubs in Missouri that have taken consumers' money and then closed.
State Laws Relating to Health and Fitness Clubs
Missouri laws regulate the booming health spa industry in the state. Among provisions:
- Health clubs must register with the Attorney General's Office and pay a $100 annual filing fee.
- Consumers have three days after signing a contract with a health spa to cancel the agreement. Health clubs are required to refund consumers' money within 30 days if the contract is canceled within three days.
- Health clubs must provide for an extension (freeze period) of the consumer's membership for time lost due to a temporary disability. Contracts can be canceled if the buyer becomes permanently disabled or dies.
- All health spa contracts must be in writing; contracts cannot exceed 36 months.
- Consumers may cancel if their contracts don't contain provisions informing them of their right to a three-day cancellation period, cancellation due to death or permanent disability, and a freeze period.
- All money collected before a club opening must be held in escrow until the health club opens. Clubs that post a $25,000 bond are exempt from this provision.
- Consumers are not responsible for the balance due on a health club contract if the club has closed and failed to provide alternative services within 10 miles of the spa's original location.
- Consumers, however, must pay the balance due on a contract if the club has moved to a site within 10 miles of its original location.