There are nearly 40,000 gyms in the United States, with 71.5 million Americans using them.
But with the outbreak of COVID-19, gym access has ground to a halt. Working out in the gyms is no longer allowed and those wanting to maintain their fitness must do so at home due to social distancing measures.
So if you’re not using the gym for the month because the gym has been shut down, are you owed a refund? Will you still get charged for your gym membership?
In this article, we’ll go over what we know about whether gyms and fitness clubs will issue refunds to its customers.
Read on for more.
Are Gyms Still Charging People for Their Memberships Amid Forced Closures?
Unfortunately, while many gyms have closed their doors indefinitely due to COVID-19, and some members are finding that they’re still being charged. Many consumers have erroneously thought that the gyms would stop charging them once the lockdown began. But instead, when they opened up their credit card bills or looked at their bank accounts, they found that the charge was taken out anyway.
Your gym may be one of the gyms that have actually decided to be fair to its customers and stopped payments. Many consider this a fair move, especially since a good portion of gym consumers have lost their jobs.
But if you’re unlucky enough to be tied to a gym that isn’t treating its customers fairly, there are a few things you can do.
Some States Are Mandating Gyms Must Refund Their Members
If you’re lucky enough to live in Pennsylvania, you may know that the Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, has stated that gyms must refund their customers. However, this refund seems to only apply to those who are canceling their gym membership entirely. It is unclear what happens if you’re a member of a gym that has closed but plans to reopen eventually.
According to the law, Pennsylvania clubs must freeze the billing accounts of their members. They should not be charging them until the gym reopens, but the Attorney General has not stated how members can ensure this happens. Instead, they must cancel their plan entirely to be entitled to a refund of their membership dues.
Those who have asked to cancel their plans must be granted the ability to do so. And, despite any gym contracts that have been made before the outbreak that tell members how to cancel their membership (i.e. it must be in person or in writing), the gyms must honor many different ways for a member to cancel. As such, members by law can cancel their contract in email, over the phone, or by sending it via regular mail. If gyms do not honor the member’s cancellation request, they can face hefty fines.
Gyms that do not comply with the Attorney General’s orders throughout the duration of COVID-19 can be fined $1,000 per violation. Not only that but if the refusal to cancel involves someone over the age of 60, they face a fine of $3,000.
If you live in Pennsylvania and your gym is not complying with these orders, you can click here to submit a complaint to the Attorney General’s office. Gyms must abide by the new state law.
What If You Don’t Live in Pennsylvania?
If you don’t live in Pennsylvania, there isn’t as much protection yet. Some larger gyms have already issued a policy where they are freezing customer membership fees until COVID-19 is under control. These gyms include Equinox, Crunch, LA Fitness, and Blink Fitness.
Other fitness centers or fitness clubs have stated that they will credit members to their members. This means that if their club is shut down for three months during the quarantine, for example, the member will be entitled to three free months as a credit at a later date.
Gym Memberships and COVID-19
It is unclear when Trump will re-open the economy and when gyms will be allowed to re-open to members. However, it is clear that while some have done right by their customers, others are continuing to collect.
If you’re having trouble getting your gym to issue you a refund for your gym membership, you should attempt first to resolve the situation amicably. While it may be difficult, try to get someone on the phone with whom you can discuss it with.
Those who are still having trouble may wish to email their gym so that they have their request in writing. Keep any copies of correspondence to prove that you have previously asked for a cancellation or a freeze.
Go to our personal finance section to find out how you can help protect yourself, and your finances, during this trying and uncertain time.