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It’ll soon be easier to cancel gym memberships in New Jersey

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As the new year marches forward, many have getting in shape as a New Year’s resolution. And while getting into that new gym membership may be easy, getting out of it can prove difficult — if not near-impossible.

New Jersey is set to change that.

Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed legislation Monday that mandates gym membership subscription services that sell memberships online also offer online cancellation options for automatic renewals. The location where subscribers can initiate the cancellation must be accessible and prominent on the gym provider’s website, within the individual’s account profile, or it may be completed through a termination email template provided by the service.

This law will ease the process for consumers to willfully terminate automatic gym renewal subscriptions and avoid entrapment by rigid in-person membership cancellation policies, Murphy’s administration says.

“By signing this bill into law, New Jerseyans will be protected from confusing, misleading, and inflexible subscription cancellation policies,” Murphy said in a statement. “For too long, members have faced difficulties when attempting to cancel a membership they entered into online. With these new requirements, we can ensure a simplified gym membership cancellation process for consumers and hardworking families can evade the financial burden of perpetual automatic renewals.”

Primary sponsors of A3892/S2952 include Senate President Nicholas Scutari, Senator Gordon Johnson, and Assemblymembers Paul Moriarty, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, and Angela McKnight. Learn more here.

Johnson, one of the sponsors of the bill, said it should be just as easy to leave a gym as it is to join one.

“If you have a gym membership that you made online you should be able to cancel it online,” said Johnson.

But not everyone was sold on the idea.

“Our main concerns are not treating the industry like an online subscription service — as you know, it’s a brick and mortar business,” Mike Goscinski, a health and fitness industry worker who testified before the committee that took on the bill, said after state legislators passed it. “We shared our concerns with the FTC as well as the IRS about the ways the laws are written to make sure they don’t set the industry for failure and create a statute that’s impossible to comply with.”

The new law takes effect April 1.

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