Unfair gym contracts common

CHOICE reveals the pressure tactics gyms use to lock you into their contracts.
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  • Updated:29 Apr 2009

04.What to look for

Don’t succumb to high-pressure sales tactics.

Take time to shop around and carefully consider the memberships on offer at each gym.

Rights and responsibilities

Read your contract carefully and be fully aware of your rights and responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to question anything in the contract that you don’t like and/or understand.

Check the cancellation terms of the contract.

Can you get out of it if you move house, get sick, lose your job or simply decide to give up? Don’t assume your contract finishes at the end of 12 months Check your contract to see how to cancel your membership (and direct debit) if you no longer want to attend.

Don’t assume your direct debit will be cancelled when you cancel your gym membership.

If you have any doubts, contact your bank directly and request an immediate cancellation of the direct debit. Although, if you have any outstanding debt you will need to arrange to pay this by cash or cheque.

Tales from the fitness frontlines

“I could hardly ever get on equipment because it was so overcrowded and spent a lot of my time just waiting to go on machines. I don’t actually recall getting a locker, so I’m sure one was never available. When I wanted to break my contract, they wouldn’t let me do it over the phone. They charged me $100 to cancel and were very reluctant to do it.”

Rejinder – Fitness First

“Towards the end of my pregnancy I wanted to cancel my gym membership as I was giving up work and wouldn’t be in the area any longer. Their response was, ‘we’ll suspend your membership for six weeks only; you’ll need the gym even more once you’ve had the baby’. I didn’t have the energy to argue that the last thing I would want to do with a newborn baby is travel halfway across town to use their gym, so I ended up paying the contract out.”

Kerry – Fernwood

“When I read the fine print on my contract I discovered I could only cancel my contract if I had a doctor’s certificate or moved 30km from the closest outlet. I moved suburbs and I don’t drive; did they really expect me to ride my bike almost 30km just to get to the gym? Two months ago when I tried to cancel I was told it would be faster to come into the gym to cancel in person. The girl at the front desk said that while I was welcome to write a letter to cancel, the process was slow – she showed me some of the cancellation requests on her desk, some of which were up to three months old.”

Victoria – Fitness First


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