As a fitness club owner and operator for 25 years, I feel compelled to comment on the article “Fitness clubs don’t show costs, state says” (Business, Feb. 28).
First, I agree that all fees and rates should be transparent to consumers regardless of the nature of the business. Our club, for example, has a rate sheet with our membership options, which prospective members can review before joining, and our membership agreement clearly defines additional fees, cancellation policy, etc. If a potential member asks to review our contract before joining, we have no issues with that.
Posting all potential membership options on a wall or menu is not done simply because of the nature of the business. Though this is commonplace at fast-food restaurants, I am hard pressed to think of another type of service business that does this. Fine dining, lawyers, plumbers, accountants, and therapists, for example, would fill wall after wall with all their prices and options.
Additional or “odd” fees for services are common in many businesses. If someone is unfamiliar with a particular industry, just about every additional fee or service can seem odd. The consumer has the option to join or not to join. If a business misrepresents or distorts its fees and services, then everyone — we are all consumers — agrees that the business in question should face consequences.