Hot line set up for Bay Fitness club members Consumer Protection Division orders refunds

September 14, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Members of the Bay Fitness health clubs in Annapolis, Severna Park and Chester can get information about refunds they may be due by calling a hot line set up by the office of the attorney general: 410-576-7052.

The Consumer Protection Division has ordered the owner of Bay Fitness in Annapolis to refund advance payments collected from members and stop collecting more than three months' advance payment from prospective customers until he posts a bond to cover the payments.

Club owner Gary D. Mackler and his company, Chesapeake Fitness Ltd., did not post a bond that would have covered the amount they collected in advance payments from customers, according to the attorney general.

In some cases, members of the Annapolis club were asked to pay as much as a year's membership in advance, according to Steven Sakamoto-Wengel, an assistant attorney general.

Under Maryland law, any health club, weight-loss center or self-defense school that collects more than three months of advance payment or an initiation fee of more than $200 must post a bond, letter of credit or cash deposit with the Consumer Protection Division to cover a full refund to customers if the business closes.

Mackler said he stayed within the requirements of the law and did not need to post a bond.

Members of Bay Fitness clubs in Severna Park and Chester, which Mackler had to give up in May after about a year in business, may also be due refunds, according to Sakamoto-Wengel.

Pub Date: 9/14/97

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