The OFT has secured commitments from gym groups to give us a break should a change in our circumstances make a gym contract too hard to afford or continue with. So what changes put them in better shape?
I like to keep fit, but until recently, have chosen to pound the pavement with my running shoes to avoid a hefty gym membership fee. However, I’m now the member of a gym that costs me £20-per-month with no contract. It may be no-frills, but it means I can choose to turn to the treadmill for when the weather outside makes running and swimming synonymous.
Fingers crossed, I’ve never had any problems with my gym, but a quick chat with colleagues showed some have felt constrained by their gym contracts.
These reports included a gym that shut down without informing its customers, and another that said a final month was owed after cancellation because the payments were set up to be paid retrospectively. This was despite having never signed a contract, because membership was automatically transferred when the old gym was taken over.
Exercising your rights
When we asked our Facebook friends whether you have the right to cancel your gym membership if you change your mind, we received a mixed response. The answer is in fact, false – so you should think carefully before signing on the dotted line.
But it’s not all bad news. The OFT secured commitments from a number of gym groups to improve your rights. This includes – Bannatyne’s, David Lloyd, Fitness First, LA fitness and Dave Whelan Sports (DWS), and gym management company Harlands Group.
Some of these rights include the chance to cancel your contract early should your circumstances change in a way that makes attendance at the gym difficult or unaffordable – such as a job loss or injury. The groups also committed to greater transparency about key membership features, including initial membership periods and cancellation rights, and for those to be provided upfront as part of the sales process.
Have you ever been locked in by a gym contract? Do the changes make you feel you’re better protected should you need to cancel your contract?