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For Immediate Release
April 22, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

CHEVY CHASE HEALTH CLUB ORDERED TO STOP TAKING CUSTOMER PAYMENTS UNTIL IT POSTS SECURITY

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer Protection Division ordered the owner of the Chevy Chase Athletic Club to stop taking payments from consumers and to cease signing up new members until it complies with Maryland’s Health Club Services Law.

The Division found that The Fitness Company Ownership Group, Inc., which owns the facility at 5454 Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase, failed to post a surety bond or other security with the Division while taking advance payments from consumers. The Division further found that the business violated the Consumer Protection Act by falsely representing to consumers that it is maintaining the security required by the Health Club law. Under Maryland law, health clubs are required to post a bond or other security with the Division if they collect more than three months' payment in advance from members or an initiation fee greater than $200.

"Health clubs need to comply with the registration and bonding requirements so that their customers’ advance payments are protected," Curran said.

The Division’s Order requires the Chevy Chase Athletic Club to post security or make refunds to consumers within 10 days and prohibits it from taking any payments from customers until it complies with the Health Club Services Law. The Order does not bar the health club from continuing to provide services to existing members. Customers may call the Division at 410-576-6350 with questions.

Curran urges consumers to call the Consumer Protection Division at 410-576-6350 before they join a health club, weight loss center or self-defense school to see if it is properly registered and bonded. Consumers can also get advice about health club memberships on the Attorney General’s Web site at www.oag.state.md.us/consumer/tip69.htm.

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