CHAPTER 420

HEALTH CLUBS

Table of Contents

Sec. 21a-217. (Formerly Sec. 19-341b). Contracts for health club services. Right of cancellation.

Sec. 21a-218. (Formerly Sec. 19-341c). Statement of buyer's rights. Form. Buyer's cancellation. Seller's written confirmation. Buyer's disability. Refunds.

Sec. 21a-219. (Formerly Sec. 19-341d). Term of contract. Renewal.

Sec. 21a-223. (Formerly Sec. 19-341h). License required. Fee. Renewal. Sanitary facilities. Suspension or revocation of license.


Sec. 21a-217. (Formerly Sec. 19-341b). Contracts for health club services. Right of cancellation. Every contract for health club services shall provide that such contract may be cancelled within three business days after the date of receipt by the buyer of a copy of the contract, by written notice delivered by certified or registered United States mail to the seller or the seller's agent at an address which shall be specified in the contract. After receipt of such cancellation, the health club may request the return of contract forms, membership cards and any and all other documents and evidence of membership previously delivered to the buyer. Cancellation shall be without liability on the part of the buyer, except for the fair market value of services actually received and the buyer shall be entitled to a refund of the entire consideration paid for the contract, if any, less the fair market value of the services or use of facilities already actually received. Such right of cancellation shall not be affected by the terms of the contract and may not be waived or otherwise surrendered. Such contract for health club services shall also contain a clause providing that if the person receiving the benefits of such contract relocates further than twenty-five miles from a health club facility operated by the seller or a substantially similar health club facility which would accept the seller's obligation under the contract, or dies during the membership term following the date of such contract, or if the health club ceases operation at the location where the buyer entered into the contract, the buyer or his estate shall be relieved of any further obligation for payment under the contract not then due and owing. The contract shall also provide that if the buyer becomes disabled during the membership term, the buyer shall have the option of (1) being relieved of liability for payment on that portion of the contract term for which he is disabled, or (2) extending the duration of the original contract at no cost to the buyer for a period equal to the duration of the disability. The health club shall have the right to require and verify reasonable evidence of relocation, disability or death. In the case of disability, the health club may require that a certificate signed by a licensed physician, a licensed physician assistant or a licensed advanced practice registered nurse be submitted as verification and may also require in such contract that the buyer submit to a physical examination by a licensed physician, a licensed physician assistant or a licensed advanced practice registered nurse agreeable to the buyer and the health club, the cost of which examination shall be borne by the health club.

(P.A. 76-262, S. 2; P.A. 77-585, S. 2; P.A. 84-531, S. 2; P.A. 05-158, S. 2; P.A. 16-39, S. 43; P.A. 21-196, S. 49.)

History: P.A. 77-585 removed references to “permanent” disability and added special provision specifically stating courses of action open to buyers who become disabled and included in contracts; Sec. 19-341b transferred to Sec. 21a-217 in 1983; P.A. 84-531 required a contract to include a provision providing that a buyer is relieved of further payment if a health club ceases operation at the location where the buyer entered into the contract; P.A. 05-158 provided that written notice of cancellation may be mailed to seller's agent and made a technical change, effective July 1, 2005; P.A. 16-39 replaced “doctor's certificate” with “certificate signed by a licensed physician or a licensed advanced practice registered nurse” and replaced “doctor” with “licensed physician or a licensed advanced practice registered nurse”; P.A. 21-196 added references to licensed physician assistant.

Sec. 21a-218. (Formerly Sec. 19-341c). Statement of buyer's rights. Form. Buyer's cancellation. Seller's written confirmation. Buyer's disability. Refunds. (a) A copy of the health club contract shall be delivered to the buyer at the time the contract is signed. All health club contracts shall (1) be in writing and signed by the buyer, (2) designate the date on which the buyer actually signs the contract, (3) identify the address of the location at which the buyer entered the contract, and (4) contain a statement of the buyer's rights which complies with this section. The statement shall appear in the contract under the conspicuous caption: “BUYER'S RIGHT TO CANCEL”, and shall read as follows:

“If you wish to cancel this contract, you may cancel by sending a written notice to one of the addresses specified below. The notice must say that you do not wish to be bound by this contract and must be delivered or mailed before midnight of the third business day after you sign this contract. After you cancel, the health club may request the return of all contracts, membership cards and other documents of evidence of membership. The notice must be delivered or mailed to:

….

….

(Insert name, electronic mail address and mailing address for cancellation notice.)

You may also cancel this contract if you relocate your residence further than twenty-five miles from any health club operated by the seller or from any other substantially similar health club which would accept the obligation of the seller. This contract may also be cancelled if you die, or if the health club ceases operation at the location where you entered into this contract. If you become disabled, you shall have the option of (1) being relieved of liability for payment on that portion of the contract term for which you are disabled, or (2) extending the duration of the original contract at no cost to you for a period equal to the duration of the disability. You must prove such disability by a certificate signed by a licensed physician or a licensed advanced practice registered nurse, which certificate shall be enclosed with the written notice of disability sent to the health club. The health club may require that you be examined by another physician or advanced practice registered nurse agreeable to you and the health club at its expense. If you cancel, the health club may keep or collect an amount equal to the fair market value of the services or use of facilities you have already received.”

The full text of this statement shall be in ten-point bold type. Each contract renewed on or after October 1, 2021, shall revise the BUYER'S RIGHT TO CANCEL language to provide for cancellation notices received by electronic mail.

(b) If a buyer cancels a health club contract pursuant to the three-day cancellation provision or as a result of having moved further than twenty-five miles, or as a result of the health club ceasing operation at the location where the buyer entered into the contract as provided by this chapter, the health club shall send the buyer a written confirmation of cancellation within fifteen days after receipt by the health club of the buyer's cancellation notice. If the health club fails to send such written notice to the buyer within fifteen days, the health club shall be deemed to have accepted the cancellation.

(c) (1) If the buyer notifies the health club that he has become disabled, the health club shall notify the buyer in writing within fifteen days of receipt by the health club of the buyer's notice of disability and any certificate signed by a licensed physician, physician assistant or a licensed advanced practice registered nurse which may be required under subsection (a) of this section that: (A) The health club will not require the buyer to submit to another physical examination; or (B) the health club requires the buyer to submit to another physical examination and that the buyer's obligations under the contract are suspended pending determination of disability. If the health club fails to send such written notice to the buyer within fifteen days, the health club shall be deemed to have accepted the disability.

(2) If the health club requires the buyer to submit to another physical examination, all obligations of the buyer for payment under the contract will be suspended as of the date the health club receives notice of disability. The buyer's obligations will not resume until such time as a determination is made, either by consent of the buyer and the health club or through adjudicative proceedings, that disability does not exist.

(d) A buyer who is disabled may, at the buyer's option, extend the duration of the original contract at no cost to the buyer for a period equal to the duration of the disability, or remain liable for partial payment on the contract as follows:

(1) A buyer who is disabled for a period less than the full remaining term of the contract shall only be liable for a pro-rata portion of the contract price equal to the total number of weeks specified in the contract less the number of weeks after the date on which the disability first occurred, the difference being divided by the total number of weeks specified in the contract and the result of that division being multiplied by the total contract price.

(2) A buyer who is disabled for the full remaining term of the contract shall only be liable for a pro-rata portion of the contract price equal to the number of complete weeks before the date the disability first occurred for which the services or facilities were made available to the buyer divided by the total number of weeks specified in the contract with the result being multiplied by the total contract price.

(3) If the reasonable probabilities are that the buyer will be disabled for the full remaining term of the contract, and the buyer has elected not to extend the duration of the contract as provided in this subsection, the health club shall cancel the buyer's contract at the time such a determination is made and notify the buyer in writing that the contract has been cancelled.

(4) Any money paid by the buyer which is in excess of the amount for which he is liable under the provisions of this section shall be refunded by the seller to the buyer.

(5) A health club which received notice of disability from a buyer shall provide such buyer with a written form which shall fully explain the buyer's options as set forth in this subsection. Such form shall provide on it a location where the buyer shall indicate in writing the option he has chosen. Such form shall be signed by the buyer and the health club.

(e) In any cancellation of a health club service contract the buyer shall not be liable for any payment to the seller if the services received by the buyer are as a result of a representation by the health club to the buyer that such services are to be received free or if the buyer received services at a health club as a result of a representation by the health club to the buyer that such services are to be received at a reduced or discount price, the buyer shall only be liable as a result of his cancellation for an amount equal to that which was represented to the buyer that he would have to pay.

(f) Any refund to the buyer as a result of cancellation of the contract shall be delivered by the health club to the buyer within fifteen business days of receipt by the health club of the notice of cancellation.

(P.A. 76-262, S. 3; P.A. 77-585, S. 3; P.A. 84-531, S. 3; P.A. 05-158, S. 3; P.A. 16-39, S. 44; P.A. 21-37, S. 39; 21-196, S. 50.)

History: P.A. 77-585 changed wording of buyer's rights statement, required that statement be in ten-point bold type and added Subsecs. (b) to (f); Sec. 19-341c transferred to Sec. 21a-218 in 1983; P.A. 84-531 made cessation of operation at the location where the customer entered into a contract grounds for cancellation of the contract, and specified the date from which a pro rata portion of the contract price is calculated as “the date the disability first occurred” rather then the date of “the commencement of disability”; P.A. 05-158 amended Subsec. (a) to provide that contracts shall identify the address of the location at which the buyer entered the contract and to provide that the statement of the buyer's rights shall include the address to which the buyer may mail cancellation notice, effective July 1, 2005; P.A. 16-39 amended Subsecs. (a) and (c)(1) by replacing “doctor's certificate” with “certificate signed by a licensed physician or a licensed advanced practice registered nurse” and made a conforming change in Subsec. (a); P.A. 21-37 amended Subsec. (a) by making technical changes, redesignating existing provisions as Subdivs. (1) to (4), deleting former Subdiv. designators (1) and (2), replacing “mailing” with “sending”, deleting reference to certified or registered mail, changing “the address” to “one of the addresses”, adding reference to electronic mail address and adding provision requiring contract renewals to revise language to provide for cancellation notices received by electronic mail; P.A. 21-196 amended Subsec. (c)(1) by adding reference to physician assistant.

Sec. 21a-219. (Formerly Sec. 19-341d). Term of contract. Renewal. (a) No health club contract shall have a term for a period longer than twenty-four months. If a health club offers a contract of more than twelve months' term, it shall offer a twelve-month contract. If a health club sells a membership contract of more than twelve months' term, the health club shall not collect payment, in cash or its equivalent of more than fifty per cent of the entire consideration for the contract in advance of rendering services. The remainder of the cost of the contract shall be collected by the health club on a pro rata monthly basis during the term of the health club contract. Each contract shall have the prices for all contracts printed thereon.

(b) Written notice that a contract will automatically renew shall be provided by the health club to the consumer at the time of entering into the contract. Such notice shall be conspicuously printed on the first page of the contract and shall be provided in fourteen-point bold type. No contract shall contain an automatic renewal clause except for a renewal for a period not to exceed one month. If such contract contains such a one-month automatic renewal clause, such renewal shall become effective only upon payment of the renewal price and such contract shall permit the buyer to cancel any further renewal upon no more than one month's notice. The price of any such renewal shall not increase or decrease unless the contract: (1) Discloses the amount of such increase or decrease or the method of calculating such increase or decrease in the price of such renewal, or (2) such information is otherwise provided to the buyer, in writing, no less than one month prior to such renewal. Any renewal option for continued membership shall be accepted by the buyer in writing, by electronic mail or facsimile and shall become effective only upon payment of the renewal price.

(c) Each health club shall post the prices and the three-day cancellation provisions, the disability provisions and the twenty-five mile moving provisions of all contracts in a conspicuous place where the contract is entered into.

(P.A. 76-262, S. 4; P.A. 77-585, S. 4; P.A. 78-116, S. 2; P.A. 84-531, S. 4; P.A. 90-96, S. 4; P.A. 05-158, S. 4; P.A. 21-37, S. 40.)

History: P.A. 77-585 added posting of three-day cancellation provisions, disability provisions and 25-mile moving provisions of contracts and required posting “where the contract is entered into” rather than “on the health club's premises”, replaced 3-year, 2-year and 1-year contracts with contracts of more than 24 months' duration, of 24 months and 12 months and added provision re renewals; P.A. 78-116 required offer of 12-month contract if contract longer than that is offered, replacing provision that 12-month contract be offered if a contract of more than 12 months' duration and less than 24 months' duration is offered; Sec. 19-341d transferred to Sec. 21a-219 in 1983; P.A. 84-531 changed the outer limit of a health club contract from 36 to 24 months; P.A. 90-96 divided section into Subsecs., prohibited the advance payment of over 50% of the cost of the contract under some circumstances and moved provision re posting of various contract provisions from Subsec. (a) to Subsec. (c); P.A. 05-158 amended Subsec. (a) to change “duration” to “term” and prohibit health club from collecting payment, in cash, or its equivalent of more than 50% of the entire consideration for the contract in advance of rendering services if health club sells a membership contract of more than 12 months' term, and amended Subsec. (b) to add provisions re 1-month automatic renewal clause and renewal price, to permit acceptance of renewal option by electronic mail or facsimile and to change “may” to “shall” re effectiveness of such option upon payment of renewal price, effective July 1, 2005; P.A. 21-37 amended Subsec. (b) to add provision requiring written notice of automatic renewal of contract at time of entering into contract and specifying placement and type of notice and to make a technical change.

Sec. 21a-223. (Formerly Sec. 19-341h). License required. Fee. Renewal. Sanitary facilities. Suspension or revocation of license. (a) Each individual place of business of each health club shall obtain a license from the Department of Consumer Protection prior to the sale of any health club contract. Application for such license shall be made on forms provided by the Commissioner of Consumer Protection and said commissioner shall require as a condition to the issuance and renewal of any license obtained under this chapter (1) that the applicant provide for and maintain on the premises of the health club sanitary facilities; (2) that the applicant, on and after October 1, 2022, (A) (i) provide and maintain in a readily accessible location on the premises of the health club at least one automatic external defibrillator, as defined in section 19a-175, and (ii) make such location known to employees of such health club, (B) ensure that at least one employee is on the premises of such health club during staffed business hours who is trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automatic external defibrillator in accordance with the standards set forth by the American Red Cross or American Heart Association, (C) maintain and test the automatic external defibrillator in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines, and (D) promptly notify a local emergency medical services provider after each use of such automatic external defibrillator; (3) that the application be accompanied by (A) a license or renewal fee of two hundred fifty dollars, (B) a list of the equipment and each service that the applicant intends to have available for use by buyers during the year of operations following licensure or renewal, and (C) two copies of each health club contract that the applicant is currently using or intends to use; and (4) compliance with the requirements of section 21a-226. Such licenses shall be renewed annually. The commissioner may impose a civil penalty of not more than three hundred dollars against any health club that continues to sell or offer for sale health club contracts for any location but fails to submit a license renewal and license renewal fee for such location not later than thirty days after such license's expiration date.

(b) No health club shall (1) engage in any act or practice that is in violation of or contrary to the provisions of this chapter or any regulation adopted to carry out the provisions of this chapter, including the use of contracts that do not conform to the requirements of this chapter, or (2) engage in conduct of a character likely to mislead, deceive or defraud the buyer, the public or the commissioner. The Commissioner of Consumer Protection may refuse to grant or renew a license to, or may suspend or revoke the license of, any health club which engages in any conduct prohibited by this chapter.

(c) If the commissioner refuses to grant or renew a license of any health club, the commissioner shall notify the applicant or licensee of the refusal, and of the applicant's or licensee's right to request a hearing not later than ten days after the date of receipt of the notice of refusal. If the applicant or licensee requests a hearing within such ten-day period, the commissioner shall give notice of the grounds for the commissioner's refusal to grant or renew such license and shall conduct a hearing concerning such refusal in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 concerning contested matters.

(d) The Attorney General at the request of the Commissioner of Consumer Protection may apply in the name of the state of Connecticut to the Superior Court for an order temporarily or permanently restraining and enjoining any health club from operating in violation of any provision of this chapter.

(P.A. 76-262, S. 8; P.A. 77-585, S. 7; P.A. 78-116, S. 1; P.A. 82-50, S. 3, 4; P.A. 83-292, S. 2, 3; P.A. 84-531, S. 7; P.A. 94-36, S. 31, 42; June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6, S. 146(c), (d); P.A. 04-169, S. 17; 04-189, S. 1; P.A. 05-158, S. 7; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 09-3, S. 287; P.A. 21-26, S. 2.)

History: P.A. 77-585 deleted obsolete reference to obtaining license “on or before November 1, 1976”, required as condition of licensure maintenance of sanitary facilities and added Subsecs. (b) and (c) re refusal, suspension or revocation of license and re court orders; P.A. 78-116 deleted reference to shower facilities in Subsec. (a); P.A. 82-50 amended Subsec. (a) by specifically requiring owners of more than one health club to obtain a license for each establishment; Sec. 19-341h transferred to Sec. 21a-223 in 1983; P.A. 83-292 added bond requirement for issuance or renewal of license; P.A. 84-531 specified, in Subsec. (a), that health clubs must be licensed before they sell any contracts, deleted provisions re posting of surety bond, added exception to $200 fee for clubs commencing operation after April first, required that license applications be accompanied by a list of equipment and services and required compliance with Sec. 21a-226, amended Subsec. (b) to prohibit violation of chapter provisions and associated regulations and to prohibit conduct likely to mislead, deceive or defraud buyers, added Subsec. (c) re procedure for notification of refusal to grant or renew license, relettering former Subsec. (c) as (d) and substituting reference to court orders to prevent health clubs from violating chapter provisions rather than to prevent them from operating without license or preopening sales permit; P.A. 94-36 amended Subsec. (a) to eliminate prorated license application fees and the “October first” license renewal date, effective January 1, 1995; June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6 and P.A. 04-169 replaced Commissioner and Department of Consumer Protection with Commissioner and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, effective July 1, 2004; P.A. 04-189 repealed Sec. 146 of June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6, thereby reversing the merger of the Departments of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, effective June 1, 2004; P.A. 05-158 amended Subsec. (a) to change requirement from a list of “each piece of” equipment to a list of “the” equipment in Subdiv. (2)(B) and to authorize commissioner to impose a civil penalty against any health club that fails to submit a license renewal for a health club location for which health club contracts are sold or offered for sale, and made a technical change in Subsec. (b), effective July 1, 2005; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 09-3 amended Subsec. (a)(2)(A) to increase license or renewal fee from $200 to $250; P.A. 21-26 amended Subsec. (a) by adding new Subdiv. (2) requiring applicant to provide and maintain an automatic external defibrillator, make its location known to employees, ensure at least one employee on premises during staffed business hours is trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use of automatic external defibrillator, test the automatic external defibrillator and promptly notify emergency medical services after each use of an automatic external defibrillator, redesignating existing Subdiv. (2) as Subdiv. (3), amending redesignated Subdiv. (3) by making technical changes and redesignating existing Subdiv. (3) as Subdiv. (4) and amended Subsecs. (b) to (d) by making technical changes.