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NSW Fair Trading Commissioner reminds consumers of gym membership rights and responsibilities

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner reminds consumers of gym membership rights and responsibilities
May 29, 2013

In another example of consumer affairs authorities focussing on fitness club management and membership issues, NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe has issued a reminder to consumers of their rights and responsibilities with gym memberships.

NSW Fair Trading highlights having received 155 enquiries and 159 complaints about gym memberships so far this yea, following 426 complaints in 2012, up from 369 in 2011.

Stowe said membership cancellation and cooling off rights generated the most complaints, stating "never allow yourself to be pressured into signing up to any form of membership on the spot.

"Shop around, find the gym with the best facilities at the most competitive price and insist on a casual membership for the first few months until you are satisfied you can commit to the terms of full membership.

"Remember it is illegal for gyms in NSW to demand more than 12 months fees in advance."

Stowe warned consumers to be sceptical of gyms offering special offers, promotions or verbal promises, adding "often these promises have strict terms and conditions hidden in the fine print, so always read your contract carefully at home before signing up to anything."

The NSW Fair Trading advice highlighted that while many gym contracts have a cooling-off period, allowing the consumer to cancel the membership in writing within a specified period, people are often unaware that costs such as administration fees for setting up or renewing membership are non-refundable, even if the membership is cancelled during the cooling-off period.

Stowe continued "consumers are also often not aware that if their membership expires, the direct debits do not automatically stop.

"There are usually conditions attached to gym contracts, such as providing 30 days written notice that you want the direct debits to stop."

He advised consumers to choose a gym that is a member of Fitness Australia, which operates under the NSW Fitness Code of Practice.

This code requires members to provide a seven-day cooling-off period if the contract is for more than three months and ensures all employees are appropriately qualified.

Stowe concluded "gyms that operate under the code of practice can use Fitness Australia to help resolve disputes with consumers and they are also more likely to agree to membership cancellations on compassionate grounds, such as long-term illness.

"If you have a dispute with your gym and it is not a member of Fitness Australia, call Fair Trading on 13 32 20."

A consumer advisory, 10 things you should know about' gym memberships, a document from NSW Fair Trading/Fitness Australia can be read at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/pdfs/About_us/Publications/ft387_gym_memberships.pdf

2nd Janaury 2013 - VICTORIAN CONSUMERS URGED TO UNDERSTAND TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF GYM MEMBERSHIPS

4th March 2010 - COWBOYS DON’T LAST IN THE MODERN FITNESS INDUSTRY 

18th June 2009 - TREADMILLS TO WARN OF INJURY RISK TO CHILDREN

8th August 2008 - SMH SLAMS FITNESS FIRST  


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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.

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