Gym owner charged: Naughty Business of the Week

August 16, 2011|By Liz F. Kay

The owner of an Essex gym has been charged with collecting prohibited fees and misleading customers about their cancellation rights, according to the Maryland Attorney General's office.

The AG's consumer protection division filed administrative charges against GRS Fitness LLC and its owner, Bernard P. Caplan, Jr. after the gym stopped offering services and charged improperly for services.

According to the division, GRS Fitness entered into an agreement with Health Trek Creations LLC to take over a gym on Kelso Drive. They changed the name from Energy Fitness Center to Spurk Fitness Center but also removed the free weights and other equipment.

But they wouldn't let people cancel their memberships, even though they continued to charge existing members the same monthly fee that they paid under the old management, when new members were charged fees as low as $9.99.

They also weren't in compliance with state laws requiring gyms to register and post a bond if they collect more than three months' fees in advance, or charge initiation fees more than $200.

There's an administrative hearing scheduled on Sept. 9, but the charges request that the gym stop misleading customers and pay restitution for payments collected in violation of the state healthclub law.

You can get more details about the healthclub law, and see which gyms and fitness centers have registered, at http://www.oag.state.md.us/healthclub/.

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