May 14, 2003
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
HEALTH CLUB ORDERED TO STOP TAKING CUSTOMER PAYMENTS UNTIL IT COMPLIES
WITH HEALTH CLUB LAW
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 Marylands
Health Club Services Law.
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
"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 Divisions 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 Generals Web site at www.oag.state.md.us/consumer/tip69.htm.