Pumping to join a fitness centre in 2021 – weigh in on your consumer rights

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen and Minister for Public Works and Procurement The Honourable Mick de Brenni

Whether you’re looking to join a gym, aquatic centre, martial arts club or a yoga studio, its important you know your consumer rights.

Acting Attorney-General Mick de Brenni said Queenslanders can seek useful help before signing up to a gym or sports club so they don’t get caught out with costly fees and contracts.

“With new year’s resolutions underway, more and more Queenslanders sign up to their local gyms and sporting clubs at this time of year,” Mr de Brenni said.

“Doing your research and knowing your consumer rights will make sure that you get the best deal for your workout.”

Paul Kuhneman from Lifestyle Health Club in Springwood said January was a busy time of year for new gym sign ups.

“The New Year is the perfect time to take on new fitness goals,” Mr Kuhneman said.

“When signing up for a new membership it’s always a good idea to ask questions so you get exactly what you want from your fitness provider to reach your personal best.

“At Lifestyle we made sure that during COVID, people weren’t paying for a service they weren’t using. And if you move house or sustain and injury, be sure to let your gym know so you’re not paying for a service you can’t use, as good gyms will often let you suspend your membership.”

In 2020, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) received 190 complaints from people about gym and fitness memberships with 65 per cent of those involving members who were charged after their memberships were cancelled.

Mr de Brenni said one particular consumer who was on a rollover agreement, cancelled their membership in writing due to their gym being closed because of COVID-19. The consumer was shocked when three months later, direct debits started coming out of their bank account without their knowledge when the gym re-opened.

“The consumer was told by the gym it had extended the end date of their agreement by three months,” Mr de Brenni said.

“It is illegal for a gym or fitness provider to continue taking payments without authority once a contract has ended.

Consumers need to be aware of their obligations as well as those of the fitness provider. This includes how they can end the agreement, and any associated cancellation fees.

The agreement must detail applicable fees, like ongoing membership costs, one-off administrative charges, and a fitness provider cannot offer you a pre-paid agreement that has an expiry date of greater than 12 months from the date of purchase.

All membership agreements must come with a 48-hour cooling off period to provide you with peace of mind if you have second thoughts about weighing in.

The fitness provider must also give you a copy of the National Fitness Industry Code of Practice (the Code), for you to read if you want to. The Code sets out mandatory standards across the fitness industry that businesses supplying fitness services must adhere to.

With a bit of careful consideration about what you want out of your membership, and by doing your research to understand your rights and responsibilities, you’ll be in a far better position so things ‘workout’ for you.

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