Is the weight over for better gym contracts?
How’s that ‘get fit’ resolution working out for you? Are you still going to the gym, or are the only pounds dropping off the ones from your bank account? Soon, your cancellation rights could be strengthened.
If the March malaise is kicking in and you’re starting to regret joining the gym, chances are you’re thinking about cancelling your contract.
The thing is that the process of cancelling a gym contract has traditionally been fraught with problems. For example, there was the case of a couple whose gym payments put a jobless man and his heavily pregnant wife at risk of homelessness.
Working out gym contract T&Cs
I know plenty of people who moan and groan about the trouble of cancelling gym memberships.
Everyone knows you should carefully read the terms and conditions before you sign up. But spotting all potential problems, penalties, notice periods and automatic renewals is easier said than done.
The first time you know the ins and outs of these terms is often when you want to cancel. That’s why we want gyms to be more transparent about their T&Cs and make them concise, jargon free and easy to understand.
Exercising your cancellation rights
The good news is that three gyms – Bannatynes, David Lloyd Leisure and Fitness First – have just agreed to do something about it. After an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading, these gyms will be changing their contracts to make them more transparent and give their members better cancellation rights. These rights include:
- Extended rights for members to cancel their contracts early should their circumstances change in a way that makes attendance at their gym difficult or unaffordable – for example if they lose their jobs or suffer an injury.
- A commitment not to describe membership as being of a fixed duration, if the contract automatically continues on a rolling basis after the initial membership period has expired.
- Greater transparency about key membership features, including initial membership periods and cancellation rights, and for these to be provided upfront as part of the sales process.
I’m sure we’ll all agree that this is to be welcomed – it’s just a shame that the OFT, which is now turning its attention to other gym operators, had to step in. Only time will tell whether these changes will help gym-goers stop sweating about their memberships.
Were you given enough information about your cancellation rights when you first signed up for a gym membership? Have you had problems trying to cancel?
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