For Immediate Release
July 24, 2008
New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte announces that all health club and martial arts school owners in the State of New Hampshire are reminded to register with the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau. New Hampshire law requires that both health clubs and martial arts schools register annually and those registration statements contain important consumer safeguards.
"Consumers should know that these facilities must register with this office and are required to post a current registration certificate inside the facility for the public to view at all times," said Ayotte. This registration process is necessary to accurately and clearly disclose services offered and to safeguard prepaid memberships for unused services. According to the law, RSA 358-I and RSA 358-S, consumers must be informed within their contracts of specific buyer's rights including the right to cancel prior to midnight on the third business day after purchasing their membership. This registration process is also necessary to protect consumers who purchase month-to-month from being charged excessive rates. Although some facilities do not have written contracts, they must still inform consumers of their rights in order to comply with New Hampshire law.
Some facilities may be required to post a bond in order to insure that consumers can be reimbursed for time not used in the event the facility closes. This bond would reimburse consumers for unused services from the date of closure. Consumers may ask to see proof of the bond from their particular facility, however some facilities may be exempt from the bond requirement.
Facilities that fail to register are in violation of the health club and martial arts school registration laws. Such a violation is also deemed to be an unfair and deceptive act, and thus in violation of New Hampshire RSA 358-A, the Consumer Protection Act which contains both civil and criminal penalties. Unregistered facilities, as well as facilities filing more than 90 days after their registration date, are subject to a $1000.00 administrative assessment. If more than one facility is owned by the same entity, each facility must be registered separately.
Consumers and businesses may check the statutory requirements of RSA 358-I or RSA 358-S, by visiting www.nh.gov. Consumers with questions may call the Consumer Protection Hotline between 9 am and 3 pm weekdays at 271-3641 or toll free at 1-888-468-4454 or go to the Consumer Protection Web site at www.doj.nh.gov/consumer. Blank registration forms may be found on this site under the Registration Applications link on the right side.
New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301