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For Immediate Release
May 14, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

ELKTON HEALTH CLUB ORDERED TO STOP TAKING CUSTOMER PAYMENTS UNTIL IT COMPLIES WITH HEALTH CLUB LAW

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer Protection Division ordered the owner of the Hard Times Fitness Corporation in Elkton 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 Hard Times Fitness Corporation, which owns the facility at One Commercial Plaza, Elkton, MD 21921, and its owner, Shannon McGee, failed to register with the Division and failed to establish that it has posted security with the Division in an amount not less than its outstanding liabilities to its members as required by the Health Club Services Law. The Division further found that the business violated the Consumer Protection Act by falsely representing to consumers that it is registered and maintaining the required security.

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

The Division’s Order requires the Hard Times Fitness Corporation to post additional security, provide proof that its current security is adequate or make refunds to consumers within 10 days. The Order also prohibits Hard Times Fitness Corporation from signing up new members or taking any payments from current 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.

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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