Arlington, Va — The number of complaints received by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) about fitness clubs has increased more than 90 percent in the last five years, according to a recent BBB study.

The most common complaints consumers have about fitness clubs focus on contract disputes (41.5 percent) and billing issues (31.7 percent). The majority of billing complaints center on being billed after the members said their contracts had expired. Many consumers either assumed their contract would not be renewed or filed the appropriate paperwork to cancel their membership but continued to have fees withdrawn from their bank accounts. Most of the contract dispute complaints involve disagreements over promises made by the salesperson as opposed to what the membership actually included.

More than 15 percent of complaints came from consumers whose fitness center either closed or changed management soon after they joined. The complainants typically wanted refunds for membership fees paid in advance or were dissatisfied with the new ownership and policies and wanted out of their contract.

Steve Cox, spokesperson for the BBB, says consumers should read the fine print before they sign a contract.