Every year millions of consumer's crowd into gyms armed with willpower and personal goals toward healthier, more active lifestyles. However, joining a gym is the same as making any major purchase; you need to make an informed decision and consider some important factors before you sign on the dotted line.
"When looking to join a gym, do your research and check out the fitness facility's complaint record with the BBB's free Reliability Reports," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau. "It's important to make sure the facilities meet your needs, but it's equally important for consumers to know the company can be trusted to be upfront about its plans, contracts and is competent with its billing process."
According to the Better Business Bureau, complaints against health clubs in Northern Illinois are up 14% for the past 12 months over the previous 12 month period (394 compared to 347).
The BBB offers the following tips when selecting a fitness facility to fit your needs:
· Determine your fitness goals. What are your fitness goals and how will you accomplish them? Considering these issues in advance will help you select a facility that is most appropriate to accomplish these goals.
· Research the company. Visit www.bbb.org
· Read the entire contract. Does it list all services, facilities and the hours of operation? Ask how long the membership term is and if there is an automatic renewal. Also ask about your cancellation rights if you move to another area, are injured, the club closes or is taken over by new management. Will the unused portion of your membership be refunded, and if so, how and when? These details should all be in the contract.
· Consider your budget. Most facilities charge an up-front membership fee to join and a monthly fee thereafter. Know what amount you can comfortably spend on physical fitness and make sure your membership costs fit into this budget.
· Check out the facilities. Visit several different health clubs on days and at times you plan to exercise to see how crowded they are. Note the cleanliness and condition of the equipment, work-out area and locker room, as well as staff member availability.
· Don't give in to pressure. Many clubs will offer "new member specials" but don't feel pressure to sign a contract on the spot. Instead, ask to take a sample contract home to read thoroughly.
For more information on finding companies and businesses you can trust, visit www.bbb.org
(PRESS RELEASE) "Chicago Shreds Day"
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S.
Over the past 12 months, 8.1 million Americans were victimized by identity fraud- a crime amounting to $45 billion in losses.
Let Us Shred Your Stuff For Free! When: Saturday, June 26th, 2010 9:00am-2:00pm Where: United Center Parking Lot E, Chicago, IL What: Consumers can shred up to 10 boxes of documents....FREE! And NEW this year, Free Electronics Recycling, including: PCs/Laptops/Servers and Monitors Data Storage Devices Printers Fax and Copy Machines Cell Phones VCRs/DVDs/Video Game Consoles
The IRS has three years from your tax-filing date to audit, and has six years to challenge a claim. A good rule of thumb is to keep all tax returns and supporting documentation for seven years.
Keep credit card statements for seven years if tax related expenses are documented.
Keep paycheck stubs for one year. Be sure to cross reference the paycheck stub to the W-2 form.
Be sure to keep bank statements and cancelled checks for at least one year.
Bills should kept for one year or until the cancelled check has been returned. Receipts for large ticket items should be kept for insurance purposes.
Home improvement receipts should be kept for six years or permanently.
Items such as birth certificates, social security cards, insurance policies, titles or wills should be kept permanently in a safety deposit box.