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Cancel Gym Contract?

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Have you ever signed up to join a gym and then your body broke down on you, leaving you unable to work out? It brings up the question, can you cancel the contract? And that's why we bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

WSVN -- A simple surgery is not simple if you are the one being cut open.

Liliana Velez went under the knife to have a bunion removed.

Liliana Velez: "And I was told it was a simple procedure and they were going to remove it."

And then...

Liliana Velez: "I woke up and had pin, stitches all over, screws inside, they had cut cartilage bones and from then on my foot was always swollen. I had a hard time walking, I was in a wheelchair."

Her doctor tried three more surgeries to correct her foot problem, none worked.

Liliana Velez: "It's just awful. I can't put my foot on the floor, I can't walk around. My whole body has been affected."

Then Liliana and her husband went to a gym to see if some exercise and therapy could help her damaged foot. An employee said, yes, it would.

Liliana Velez: "It's going to be OK and if it doesn't work out, you can just cancel."

With the promise that Liliana could cancel if things didn't work out, Liliana paid $3,600 for a personal trainer for a year. Her first session didn't go well.

Liliana Velez: "I was in pain. Don't worry, with time it's going to go away. If there is no pain, there is no gain. That was the motto so I said OK."

After two sessions, her doctor found out what she was doing and sent a letter telling the gym she could not work out.

Liliana Velez: "I recommend that you cancel your membership."

The gym rejected the doctors letter and said they needed more information. She brought a second letter from her doctor that said she had a permanent disability.

The gym denied the request and said they needed even more information from her doctor.

Liliana Velez: "So I went back again and I got a third letter and she again denied me."

The gyms contract says Liliana could cancel if she was disabled but the gym wrote that she was denied because she had the disability when she signed the gym contract, disappointing Liliana.

Liliana Velez: "I want to cancel the gym and I want my money back."

Well Howard, no doubt, according to federal law Liliana is disabled. So does that give her the right to cancel a gym contract?

Howard Finkelstein: "The state of Florida gives special protection to consumers with health club or gym contracts that they dont provide in normal contracts. If you become disabled after you sign the contract or you are disabled when you sign it and you get worse, the law says you can cancel your contract and get back the money you are owed."

We spoke to the gym representative. She told us they don't normally accept the documents that Liliana presented, but the owner had decided to let her cancel her contract and they were sending her money back to her.

Good for them and while speaking about gyms, it brings up another question we get.

Howard Finkelstein: "We often here from viewers who are asked to sign a contract whether it's a gym contract or a car deal? When they ask to take the contract home to read it carefully, they are told the company does not allow that. If that happens to you, don't sign it, walk away."

Liliana Velez: "She stated I will be getting my full refund back."

Liliana was really excited about the gym, hoping they could help with her painful foot. It didn't work out but at least now she gets her money back.

Liliana Velez: "I am very excited. I am very happy I got help from you guys, from Howard, from Patrick, from the staff Ambar, you."

Patrick Fraser: "Ambar is the producer with Help Me Howard and you is Johnnie U our photographer. And one more thing about gym contracts, it can not be longer than three years and if you sign it and change your mind, you can cancel it by notifying the gym in writing within three days. And like Howard says, with any contract, take it home and read it before you sign it. Also, if someone promises you something, get it in writing."

Troubles left you physically exhausted? Need someone to whip things into shape? Sign up with us. We aren't fast on a treadmill but Howard can workout a legal problem.

With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:

E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com

Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN

Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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