Gansler takes on health club

Bryan Cohen Aug. 12, 2011, 1:37am


BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler announced administrative charges Thursday against an Essex, Md., health club and its owner.

GRS Fitness LLC and owner Bernard P. Caplan, Jr., allegedly made false and misleading statements to consumers in regard to their cancellation rights, arbitrarily discontinued services that had been previously provided, attempted to collect debts not owed, offered and charged improper fees and failed to post required security.

"Health clubs cannot stop offering the services they've promised and expect their members to continue paying for them," Gansler said. "In Maryland, health clubs cannot deceive consumers about their cancellation rights."

Gansler alleges that in 2010, GRS Fitness entered into an agreement with Health Tek Creations LLC to take over a health club facility located in Essex. GRS Fitness and Caplan changed the gym's name from Energy Fitness Center to Spunk Fitness Center and removed free weights and heavy lifting equipment from the facility. Despite the significant changes, GRC Fitness and Caplan allegedly refused to allow members to cancel their membership.

GRS Fitness and Caplan allegedly made misleading and false statements about members' cancellation rights and continued to charge the higher monthly membership fee for Energy Fitness Center services that were no longer provided.

Gansler is requesting that GRS Fitness and Caplan be ordered to cease and desist from selling any health club services until they comply with the registration process, cease and desist from improper billing services and pay full restitution of all payments collection in violation of the Health Club Service law and the Consumer Protection Act.

A pre-hearing conference will be conducted by the Office of Administrative Hearings on September 9.

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