Your Rights under the Prepaid Entertainment Contract Act
The Prepaid Entertainment Contract Act (PECA) provides protection to consumers who have entered into agreements for prepaid agreements for certain services. PECA covers a variety of contracts, ranging from Gym Memberships, Dance lessons, Martial Arts lessons, to online dating services.
In 2012, the Ohio Attorney General instituted an action against a Fitness Center for purported violations of PECA. The court in Ohio v. Riffle concluded that the Fitness Center violated PECA by, amongst other things, the following actions:
- Failing to provide consumers with proper notice of their right to cancel a prepaid entertainment contract as required by PECA
- Closing the fitness facilities and failing to provide refunds for the unused portions of the contract and failing to arrange for a substantially similar fitness facility located within 25 miles of the customers’ residences as required by PECA, which was also a violation of the Consumer Sales Protection Act (CSPA)
- Failing to honor cancellations made by consumers during PECA’s three-day mandatory cooling off window
- Failing to honor valid cancellations made due to a consumer’s disability that prevented the consumer’s enjoyment of the contract’s purpose as required by PECA
- Failing to honor cancellations made after consumers moved outside of a 25 mile radius of the facilities
- Failing to provide refunds to consumers within 10 days after valid cancellations of contracts as required by PECA
- Representing in the contract that certain services, such as childcare, would be available, and failing to provide such services
In Riffle, the Defendant was permanently enjoined from committing any unfair, deceptive, or unconscionable act or practice which violated the CSPA or PECA. The Defendant was further ordered to pay consumer damages and a civil penalty, as well as cease all pending collection actions against other consumers.