Assemblywoman Says the Current Pandemic Has Raised Concerns for Many Gym-Goers Who Find Themselves Having to Pay for Memberships They Cannot Use Due to COVID-19
Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Hudson) introduced legislation Monday to require health club service contracts to contain certain provisions regarding membership cancellation and suspension procedures during an outbreak of infectious disease.
“When gyms reopened, many residents with memberships were uncomfortable with going into a facility, whether it was due to underlying health conditions or just out of caution,” said McKnight. “However, consumers are tied to a relatively unbreakable contract with automatic monthly payments. As we’ve seen over the last few months, COVID-19 has forced many residents to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families. Going to the gym becomes next to impossible during a public health emergency such as this one.”
Assemblywoman McKnight noted that some fitness centers have worked with their members to allow cancellations and modified payments but not all of them.
“This bill will require all gyms to provide notification to its members of their reopening and when membership fees will resume so that the buyer is aware and may reach out to the gym to take action. It will also allow, during a public health crisis, a gym member to request a cancellation or suspension of charges without paying cancellation fees,” continued McKnight.
“Some residents may not be able to afford the membership fees due to financial constraints brought on by the pandemic. Residents should not have a surprise charge on their bank account, especially if they are not comfortable with going to the gym at this time.”
Under the bill (A-5062), a health club services contract must include the following provisions regarding the health club facility’s procedures in the event it is closed due to a state of emergency or public health emergency declared by the Governor in response to an outbreak of infectious disease occurring in or out of the State:
- the health club facility is to provide notice to the buyer regarding the closing and reopening of the facility and the buyer’s payment obligations;
- the buyer may elect to place the buyer’s health club membership on hold until the state of emergency or public health emergency is lifted by the Governor, during which time any recurring payment obligation is to be waived by the health club facility;
- the buyer may cancel the buyer’s health club facility membership due to health concerns; and
- if the buyer elects to cancel the buyer’s health club facility membership due to health concerns, the health club facility is not to charge the buyer any cancellation fee or termination penalty.
The bill defines “outbreak” to mean any unusual occurrence of disease or any disease above background or endemic levels.
The legislation will now be referred to an Assembly committee.