The start of a new year is often associated with increased interest in gym memberships, home workout equipment, and programs designed to support a healthier lifestyle.
As consumers recover from holiday celebrations, including holiday dinners that are generally more robust than standard fare, the new year offers plenty of opportunities to help shed those extra servings of stuffing. However, it’s important to be aware of scammers who take advantage of shopping trends for their own gain, and to keep realistic fitness goals that can be pursued throughout the year.
Online searches for “workout equipment” typically peak in late December or early January, when consumers begin outfitting their homes to pursue their fitness goals.
Unfortunately, the increase in interest in these products is also something scammers are taking advantage of, shifting their tactics from fraudulent holiday gifts to exercise equipment.
The Better Business Bureau also receives reports of “miracle products”, often supplied in pill or powder form, which guarantee the user will lose a certain amount of weight within a certain period of time. Advertisements for these products often claim that the user will not have to modify their diet or change their exercise routine, which appeals to a wide range of consumers, but comes with a monthly charge that is difficult to remove. or a high initial price.
Earlier in 2022, a resident of Texas found an online website selling brand name gym equipment at extremely low prices with free shipping. After completing the purchase, the consumer reported that “the order did not show any calculated sales tax. After placing the order, the email receipt from PayPal showed a very different business name in a foreign language. When I called to cancel the order the phone number was non-existent and all my emails to their support email went unanswered.
The Better Business Bureau provides the following tips for making the most of your New Year’s fitness goals and avoiding scams:
Ask about limited free trials. Gyms often offer a free one-week pass to prospective members, and home programs offer a trial period for consumers to determine if it’s right for their fitness goals. If you are interested in a gym membership, take the time to realistically determine what time of day you would be available to exercise and visit the gym during those times to see how it’s crowded or if there’s a wait for the equipment you would typically do. use in your workout routine. Check to see if limited trials are offered for specialized courses or programs.
Don’t feel constrained. Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics to immediately join a workout program or make an online purchase without researching the seller or company first. A reputable gym or program will give you plenty of time to read the contract carefully, tour the facilities, and make an informed decision. Be especially wary of claims that sound too good to be true, such as a guarantee to lose a large amount of weight extremely quickly.
Calculate trust costs. Gyms and home workout or diet programs often use introductory offers to encourage new members, especially in the new year. However, the price might increase more than expected once the initial period ends. Be sure to read the contract and expenses carefully and understand the regular monthly charges and what they include.
Understand the terms. Read the contract carefully before signing and make sure that any verbal promises made by a seller are in writing. Pay particular attention to cancellation and renewal policies. Some programs may charge cancellation fees or will automatically renew your contract at the end of its term.
Beware of products and offers that sound too good to be true. Branded workout gear at prices significantly lower than what can be found at an authorized retailer is a red flag of a potential scam. While it may be worth adhering to diet programs or nutritional supplements that promise amazing results, be careful and trust your instincts. Losing 20 pounds in two weeks may sound great, but is never a realistic goal and can put more stress on your body than is healthy.
Use a credit card when shopping online. BBB strongly recommends using a credit card for all online purchases rather than a debit card, wire transfer or mobile banking app transaction. In the event of a fraudulent seller or professional purchase, credit cards offer additional protection and the possibility of having charges waived compared to other payment methods.