Consumer Protection: Home Depot Data Breach And Health Club Closures

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Large-scale data breaches have unfortunately become common events. Larry Meiller finds out what the recent Home Depot data breach means for consumers. Plus, information on health club closures and tips for purchasing propane.

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  • How Health Club Consumers Are Protected Under Wisconsin Law

    A health club on Madison’s West Side last month unexpectedly and abruptly closed, leaving its customers out of the money they spent for a gym membership. At least one member had spent $2,000 for a supposed lifetime membership with the fitness center weeks prior to the closure.

    Those members, however, might be in luck: According to a state administrator, Wisconsin has laws that specifically regulate health clubs and memberships.

    “Consumers should know that there are laws on the books that protect them when they’re doing business with a fitness center,” said Sandy Chalmers, the administrator of the Division of Trade and Consumer Protection in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

    For example, DATCP is currently encouraging members of the closed Madison fitness center to contact them and file a formal complaint, since any member of a gym that closes in Wisconsin has the right to an adjusted refund of their fees.

    Chalmers mentioned some other specific fitness center regulations under Wisconsin law:

    No lifetime memberships. Chalmers said that Wisconsin prohibits gyms from forming any kind of contract with consumers that extends beyond two years. “Again, that’s to protect the consumer from paying too much money up front,” she said. “Then if the fitness club goes under … they are out their money.”

    All contracts must have cancellation periods. Whether it’s because of excitement about a new resolution, or maybe a convincing salesperson, it can be easy for a gym-goer to sign a contract a little too quickly. Chalmers said that by law, health club contracts have a three-day “cooling off period” — a window of time in which a consumer can cancel that contract for any reason.

    Contracts must get into specifics. One other protection dictates that all gym contracts have to specify what major facilities and services are offered in a membership, as well as the locations of those offerings and any rules or restrictions for members who want to use them.

    Promised facilities must be made available. If a membership is being sold for a facility that is still under construction, state law dictates that it must be usable within six months.

    The Consumer Protection Bureau asks that consumers whose fitness center has closed unexpectedly, or that is not following these legal requirements file a complaint online or by calling the Consumer Information Hotline toll free at 800-422-7128.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Sandy Chalmers Guest
  • Michelle Reinen Guest