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BBB tip: Don’t lose money when trying to lose weight in the new year

The new year provides a fresh start for many consumers. Some may be thinking of losing the extra holiday weight or making healthier choices in 2022. But the desire to get in shape or lose weight fast creates a risk of being deceived by products that do not work as advertised. The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan cautions consumers to avoid losing money when trying to lose weight. 

“When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between beneficial products/providers and scams. Don’t be a victim of clever marketing tricks that don’t deliver on actual results,” said Lisa Frohnapfel, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “Save yourself the headache and keep your motivation on track by doing your research first with the BBB.”

Tips to avoid weight loss scams:

Always be wary of advertisements and customer endorsements promising “miracle” results or immediate weight loss. There is no such thing as a secret ingredient or breakthrough formula that can result in weight loss virtually overnight. Be especially skeptical of claims that you don’t have to give up unhealthy foods or reduce the amount you consume. Note the typical weight loss is often significantly less than the testimonial shown in the advertisement.

Research the company with BBB.org & BBB Scam Tracker before purchasing. Read reviews about the company to see if there are any complaints alleging that it’s a scam.

Check a product’s ingredients with the FDA. Be suspicious of taking special pills, powders or herbs. Some products have been recalled for containing ingredients with potentially dangerous effects. Check the list of public notifications from the FDA regarding potentially harmful weight loss products.

A lack of an ingredients list is a red flag. 

Be wary of free trial offers and understand all the terms and conditions. These deals can become “subscription traps” that hook consumers into expensive shipments of products they did not agree to buy.

Another option to get healthy is joining a gym. However, don’t just sign up at the first gym you see.

Get the most from a gym membership using these tips from BBB:

Figure out your priorities. Will a convenient location and extended hours help you stick to your fitness plan? Will a variety of equipment or classes keep you motivated?

Check BBB.org. Read what previous customers have to say and see how the businesses respond to complaints. This information may help you narrow down the list of gyms you want to tour in person. 

Take a tour & ask questions. Gyms often give a one-week free pass for potential members. Take advantage of this to check out the gym at a time you would normally go. Make sure you understand all the rules. Ask about busy times, wait times for equipment, whether classes require pre-registration, availability and cost of trainers, etc. 

Understand the terms. Read the contract carefully before signing. Make sure that all verbal promises made by the salesperson are in writing. What matters is the contract and the terms within it, so don’t just take a salesperson’s word for it. Will the membership renew automatically at the end of the term? What is the cancellation policy and under what circumstances? 

Calculate the true costs. Gyms often use special introductory offers to encourage new members, but the price could go up more than you budgeted once the initial period is over. Make sure you understand what the regular monthly fees will be and what they include. 

Don’t feel coerced. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, do some research, and make an informed decision.

Go to BBB.org to look up a business, file a complaint, or write a customer review. Check BBB Scam Tracker to research and report scams. 

 For more tips to have a successful start to 2022, check out the BBB’s New year’s guide.

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