AG Gansler Charges Health Club Chain with Bonding Violations
9 Fitness First clubs in Montgomery, Frederick didn't protect members' payments
Baltimore, MD (June 19, 2012) -Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has filed an administrative statement of charges against the Fitness First health club chain for collecting annual fees from members without posting the bond required by Maryland's Health Club law to protect members' payments.
Fitness First operates nine Maryland health clubs in Frederick and Montgomery counties. According to the charges, since 2009, Fitness First has collected an annual "Facility Enhancement Fee" in addition to monthly dues, but has not provided the Division's Health Club Registration Unit with a surety bond, letter of credit or cash deposit as required by the Health Club law.
The charges seek an order requiring Fitness First to post the required bond or cease collecting the annual fee, refund annual fees previously collected, and pay civil penalties and costs. A hearing on the charges is scheduled for August 7 before the Consumer Protection Division.
Attorney General Gansler encouraged consumers to check before joining whether a health club, self-defense school or weight loss center is registered at www.oag.state.md.us/healthclub, or by calling 410-576-6350. Clubs that collect more than three months' payment in advance from members or charge an initiation fee greater than $200 or any annual fees must also post a bond to protect members' advance payments.