Since 1989 Elite Pool Covers have designed and manufactured an extensive range of high quality affordable manual,semi-automatic and fully-automatic pool cover systems for the harsh Australian…read more
Consumer NZ targets gyms as part of unfair contract terms campaign
Consumer NZ has launched a campaign to target the use of unfair terms in consumer contracts, with fitness club membership contracts to be one of the first targets of its campaign.
Consumer NZ Chief Executive Sue Chetwin said the 'Play Fair' campaign, launched this week, had been timed to coincide with a ban on unfair terms which came into effect 17th March.
Chetwin said companies had been given generous notice of the ban to give them time to review their contracts and remove unfair terms but explained "there’s little evidence this had happened.
"(As a result) we’re launching our ‘Play Fair’ campaign to highlight companies which continue to use unfair terms despite the ban."
These terms unfairly privilege the seller over the buyer, Chetwin adding that "they can include terms that give the company unilateral rights to vary the contract, the goods or services supplied, or even the price.”
Chetwin said gym contracts would be one of the first targets of its campaign.
She explained "gym contracts can give the gym wide-ranging rights to vary its services.
"But the rights available to the consumer may be extremely limited and costly to use."
Consumer NZ cites Australia, which has had a ban on unfair terms since 2010, where companies are being taken to court over the use of these terms.
A Federal Court ruling in 2013 forced an Australian telco to remove terms that gave it unilateral rights to cancel and to vary the price without allowing customers to opt out.
Chetwin said the ban on unfair terms was one of the most significant changes to New Zealand’s consumer law in the past 20 years.
The ban, introduced in amendments to the Fair Trading Act in 2013, will apply to unfair terms in standard-form consumer contracts – the pre-written terms and conditions used by electricity retailers, telcos, finance providers, pay-TV operators and many other companies.
Chetwin said Consumer would be filing complaints with the Commerce Commission about any company which continues to use unfair terms since the ban took effect on 17th March.
What’s the definition on an unfair term?
The Fair Trading Act defines a term as unfair if it:
• Would cause a significant imbalance between the rights of the company and the consumer
• Is not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the company
• Would cause detriment, whether financial or otherwise, to the consumer if it were to be applied or relied on.
What terms are likely to be considered unfair?
The Act contains a list of terms that the courts are likely to regard as unfair. The list includes terms that allow a company tounilaterally:
• Vary the terms of the contract
• Terminate the contract
• Renew or not renew the contract
• Penalise the consumer for breaching or ending the contract
• Vary the price without giving the consumer the right to end the contract
• Vary the characteristics of the goods or services to be supplied.
Does the ban apply to all contracts?
The ban applies to standard-form consumer contracts which are entered into, varied or renewed from 17 March 2015. However, the ban won’t apply to insurance contracts. After successful lobbying, the insurance industry was exempted from the ban. The exemption means any existing insurance policy is allowed to contain unfair terms. The ban will only apply with limited effect to new insurance policies taken out after 17 March.
Who can challenge an unfair term?
At present, only the Commerce Commission can challenge unfair terms in the courts. However, anyone can ask the commission to seek a declaration from the court that a term is unfair. Consumer NZ would like the law amended so individual consumers can also challenge these terms.
What are the penalties for including unfair terms in a consumer contract?
Any company which tries to impose an unfair term on its customers runs the risk of breaching the Fair Trading Act and a $600,000 fine.
For more information go to www.consumer.org.nz/playfair
3rd January 2014 - STATE GOVERNMENTS SINGLE OUT FITNESS SECTOR FOR CONSUMER WARNINGS
10th December 2011 - KIWI SUNBED OPERATORS FAIL SAFETY REQUIREMENTS
30th July 2009 - 'NO DOUBT' SUNBEDS CAUSE CANCER
8th August 2008 - SMH SLAMS FITNESS FIRST
Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?
The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.
However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.
Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.
Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.
Click here to subscribe.
The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.
Headquartered in Brisbane with an Australia-wide network of satellite offices, PaySmart is one of Australia’s largest and longest-standing direct debit billing companies. In 1996 we began…read more
BODY BIKE® International is a leading manufacturer of indoor bikes with a 20-year track record of creating the best indoor bikes. Stay connected with Body Bike Australia…read more
ICP is an Australian-based company focused on indoor climbing. ICP will manage your project from initial design to completion and beyond, whether you're building an international-level climbing…read more
Track. Engage. Retain GreeneDesk is a suite of cloud based software solutions helping health clubs, leisure centres and swim schools to effectively track progression, improve customer engagement and…read more
PROVEN BUSINESS CONCEPTS WITH XBODY XBody’s goal is to see you and your EMS business succeed. That is why we don’t just sell equipment, we provide know-how, expert knowledge,…read more
As of 2018, TicketServ operates as SeatGeek Asia Pacific Pty Limited, part of international ticketing platform SeatGeek. Click here to contact SeatGeek Asia Pacific via their entry in…read more
Whether your goal is increasing your centre's revenues or creating an engaging environment, why not add play to your project? If you're looking for stylish aquatic play features, kid-tested…read more
get listed with our suppliers directory
Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!