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New Zealand gyms to change contract terms after Commerce Commission review

New Zealand gyms to change contract terms after Commerce Commission review
August 22, 2017

New Zealand fitness clubs have agreed to amend their standard form contracts after a Commerce Commission review into unfair contract terms in the sector.

New Zealand’s Fair Trading Act bans contract terms which create a significant imbalance of rights or obligations between companies and consumers.

Fitness clubs are the third sector to be reviewed by the Commission, following reviews into retail telecommunications and energy contracts. Commissioner Anna Rawlings said the sector generates a range of consumer complaints, with more than 700,000 New Zealanders belonging to a gym or fitness centre.

The review considered 10 standard membership agreements from a range of small and large providers nationwide including Anytime Fitness, City Fitness, Club Physical, Configure Express, Jetts, Les Mills, Next Generation, Snap Fitness, and Loft 45.

It also looked at the Debitsuccess template contract a range of smaller gyms use.

Rawlings advised “our review identified a number of potentially unfair terms across the contracts.

“These included onerous liability provisions where gyms’ tried to exclude all liabilities to customers for damage or loss to members’ property, as well as provisions allowing the gym to unilaterally vary their location and services. A number of the contracts were also not written in plain English and contained complicated and onerous cancellation processes and notice provisions.

“We’re satisfied with the response from gyms to our concerns, with all providers demonstrating a desire to comply with the law, either justifying how the terms are necessary to protect their legitimate business interests or agreeing to amend their contracts. For some it prompted a complete rewrite of their contracts.”

“We’re particularly pleased to see gyms amending their termination clauses and associated fees. This includes some gyms reducing their 30 day notice periods for cancellations outside any minimum term down to between seven and 14 days. Some gyms also amended provisions relating to their liability to members, and variation clauses about their location and the services they offer.”

The Commission has provided compliance advice letters to all gyms involved in the review reminding them of their obligations under the Fair Trading Act. It also encourages gyms that were not involved in the review to consider their own contracts in light of the information provided in the report. 

9th February 2016 - GYMS RISK BREACHING UNFAIR TERMS BAN

6th December 2015 - ACCC URGES BUSINESSES TO CHECK THAT THEIR CONTRACTS ARE FAIR

1st September 2015 - FLEXIBLE GYM CONTRACTS IMPROVE MEMBER RETENTION 

18th March 2015 - CONSUMER NZ TARGETS GYMS AS PART OF UNFAIR CONTRACT TERMS CAMPAIGN 

10th December 2011 - KIWI SUNBED OPERATORS FAIL SAFETY REQUIREMENTS


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