Gyms, fitness centers must allow members to cancel memberships or face legal consequences

State attorney general responds to consumer complaints during COVID-19 outbreak

In response to dozens of consumer complaints, Attorney General Bob Ferguson has sent an open letter to Washington fitness centers and gyms providing the following guidance:

* Gyms and fitness centers must allow customers to cancel their memberships at any time, for any reason, including the inability to access their gym or fitness due to the global pandemic, provided those requests are issued in writing.

* Members who cancel their gym and fitness center membership are legally entitled to a refund – not credits – of the unused portion of any prepaid fees or dues.

* Fitness centers must pay the refund within 30 days of receipt of a written notice of cancellation.

* Gyms and fitness centers cannot misrepresent these rights or prevent members from cancelling.

Ferguson’s letter warns that any gym failing to comply is violating the Washington State Consumer Protection Act, and will face legal action from his office, according to a news release Monday from the state Office of Attorney General.

“My office received dozens of complaints from Washington consumers that their fitness center is continuing to charge them membership fees in the midst of this crisis,” Ferguson said in the news release. “The law is clear: Washingtonians are allowed to cancel their gym memberships any time, for any reason.”

Ferguson’s guidance applies to all health studios, defined in the Washington State Health Studio Services Act as “any person or entity engaged in the sale of instruction, training, assistance or use of facilities which purport to assist patrons to improve their physical condition or appearance through physical exercise, body building, weight loss, figure development, the martial arts, or any other similar activity.”

Nothing in the law prohibits a fitness center from waiving the written requirement and accepting cancellations from its members by phone. Gyms can also comply with the law by not charging membership fees until gyms can safely reopen.

Ferguson’s office responded to every consumer complaint he received regarding gyms and fitness centers. The letter states that the Attorney General’s Office has contacted many gyms and fitness centers that have already frozen memberships or issued refunds.

Consumer Protection lawsuits brought by the Attorney General’s Office can seek civil penalties of up to $2,000 per violation plus consumer restitution and reasonable attorney fees.

Anyone experiencing similar unfair business practices are encouraged to file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.

Consumer protection during coronavirus

Consumer complaints have increased significantly in the midst of the global pandemic. The Consumer Protection Division is responding to every consumer complaint related to COVID-19 by calling the consumer and demanding a response from the business within five business days.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Business

A young chef carefully spreads sauce onto pizza dough during a cooking class at Young Chefs Academy of Covington. Courtesy photo/YCA Covington
Kids culinary school opens in Covington

The school takes the unknown out of cooking for kids, owner Deb O’Brien said.

A new measure from the King County Council could increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas of King County. File photo
County measure would increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas

Staff report Legislation the King County Council passed June 23 could lead… Continue reading

The Landing in Renton/File photo
The Landing open in Phase 2 for businesses

Individual retailers determine reopening and operating hours

24 Hour Fitness is closing over 100 gyms, including one in Renton. Photo courtesy the Highlands 24 Hour Fitness Instagram.
Highlands 24-Hour Fitness gym will not be reopening

It is one of several gyms in region and over 100 in the country closing after 24 Hour Fitness filed bankruptcy Monday

Westfield Southcenter Mall to reopen June 15

Modified hours; safety protocols

Closure, layoffs at Mitsubishi Aircraft’s Renton headquarters.

Only a year into joining the aerospace hub of the Northwest, several hits to the commercial jet industry in 2019-2020 causes the company to scale back.

Goodwill to reopen donation centers, stores in King, Pierce counties

Including Kent, Auburn, Federal Way locations

Michelle Hankinson stands in front of the Renton Area Youth Services office in downtown Renton. While RAYS is merging with two other nonprofits, much of it remains the same. Courtesy photo RAYS.
Local RAYS joins nonprofit Childhaven

Renton Area Youth Services has been working with local families for 50 years.

New Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma to open June 8

$400M, 310,000-square-foot facility will open with COVID-19 precautions

Photo courtesy of Gyros House Mediterranean Grill.
Gyros House Mediterranean Grill closes Friday

The restaurant, which like many has been hit hard by the impacts of the closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, is now moving to catering-only after 26 years.

Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn to reopen May 26

Face masks to be required of guests and employees

Like similar businesses across King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, Bothell restaurant Hana Sushi closed due to public-health concerns. Sound Publishing file photo
Inslee changes course, says diners won’t have to sign in

Restaurants may still ask customers for information that contact tracers could use to stop an outbreak.