Posted by Debra Worley - email
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Thanks to a comprehensive agreement announced by Attorney General Roy Cooper, Peak Fitness has agreed to modify its customer service, contracts, and billing practices.
Cooper's office has received around 300 complaints about the health club over the past five years.
The court-approved agreement requires Peak to be more up front with potential customers and take steps to protect them if the club suddenly shuts down, like the Wilmington location did in 2008.
Cooper says members of the Peak Fitness Wilmington location who were transferred to Gold's Gym and requested a refund but never got one, have 30 days to request their contract be canceled and apply for a refund through the Attorney General's Office.
Wilmington consumers who believe they are eligible for a refund should contact Cooper's Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or fill out a complaint form at www.ncdoj.gov.
Peak Fitness is now required to:
- Designate a single point of contact to handle all consumer complaints, concerns and questions and post contact information clearly in all Peak Fitness clubs, on all Peak Fitness web sites, and on all customers' contracts.
- Clearly post contact information for Peak's billing company, ABC Financial, in all Peak Fitness clubs, on all Peak Fitness web sites, and on all customers' contracts, and provide a working fax machine in all Peak Fitness clubs for cancellations and correspondence with Peak Fitness.
- Purchase and maintain appropriate bonds for each health club it operates in North Carolina. Bonds can be used to pay refunds to members if the club shuts down.
- Not sell memberships to any club more than 180 days before it will open.
- Notify the Attorney General's Office before entering membership contracts for clubs that have yet to open, purchase a bond of at least $10,000 for the club, and give consumers written notice of their extended three-day right to cancel their contracts.
- Give advance notice to gym members and the Attorney General's Office when a health club will be closed or when members will be transferred to another location.
- Provide pro-rated refunds to any customer who purchases or renews a membership to a club that then closes within 90 days.
- Make sure all membership contracts are fully completed and signed, include a specific time period for the membership measured in years or parts of a year, contain a full statement of consumers' right to cancel the contract within three days of signing it, and contain a full statement of their right to refunds.
- Clearly explain that automatic renewal of memberships is optional.
- Pay pro-rated refunds when members move more than eight miles from the club or more than 30 miles from any Peak Fitness location or are no longer able to use the facilities because of death or disability.
- Honor lifetime contracts purchased prior to 1980 at health clubs now owned by Peak Fitness. Consumers who allowed their lifetime contract to lapse or otherwise entered a replacement contract with Peak in 2008 have 60 days to contact Peak to get their lifetime contract reinstated.