Advance Notice: Briefs

Trapped in a gym contract during COVID-19? These bills make it easier to cancel.

By: - July 29, 2020 1:15 pm

Susan J. Demas

Two Democratic state lawmakers are trying to change strict requirements about gym membership contracts, which they say are unfairly trapping gym-goers in memberships that are difficult to get out of during the COVID-19 outbreak.

House Bills 6028 and 6029, introduced Thursday by state Reps. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.) and Kevin Coleman (D-Westland), would strengthen consumer protections against tactics like requiring in-person cancelations.

“Over the past few months, we’ve seen a lot of gyms telling members that they’ll still be charged for a facility they can’t use, but then if they want to cancel their membership, they have to do it in person, which also isn’t an option right now,” Camilleri said in a statement Wednesday.

“People are effectively trapped in these expensive gym contracts, and it’s time to ban this unfair practice and make sure Michigan consumers aren’t getting taken advantage of.”

You’ll have to pump iron at home, because gyms are still closed

Indoor fitness facilities in most of the state — except for the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City regions — remain closed under executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. That order was challenged but subsequently upheld in a federal Court of Appeals in June, although some gym owners have defied the rule and opened anyway. 

Camilleri’s HB 6028 would make health club agreements that require in-person membership cancellations “void and unenforceable.”

Coleman’s legislation, HB 6029, would require health clubs to adopt more flexibility in dealing with membership payments during a facility closure. This could include options like prorating payments, temporarily putting a member’s account on hold or waiving membership fees for reduced services like online fitness classes. 

“Gym members deserve flexibility in these unprecedented times when many are facing serious financial distress,” Coleman said. “No one should be forced to pay for a service that is not being provided or does not work for them.”

Both bills were introduced Thursday and referred to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.