People wanting to sign up to a gym have been warned by NSW Fair Trading after 550 complaints were lodged in 2017, bringing the tally to approximately 1650 over three years.
Most of the complaints were related to membership
cancellations, cooling-off periods and refunds, says Matt Kean, Minister
for Innovation and Better Regulation.
"It's important to know your consumer rights," he says. "Don't forget you're signing a legally binding agreement, which means contractual obligations
for you, and the gym."
The industry has skirted trouble in the past for similar reasons with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The
federal regulator put the industry on notice in 2014 for advertising its memberships as
"no contracts", even though patrons would have to pay fees if they wanted
The number of complaints lodged against gyms nationally are not published
by the ACCC.
Minister Kean says more than half of the 550 people who complained "were
offered some sort of financial redress" after lodging a complaint to NSW
Businesses are required to clearly outline direct debit arrangements when people sign up and terminate an agreement – this includes gyms and fitness centres.
The minister offered simple advice when it comes to finding the right place to work out.
"Check out the facilities, opening hours and training options before
signing up. If they're offering a free trial, make sure you use it within
the timeframes set out in the conditions," he says.
"Most importantly, read the contract."
- Still want to join a gym? Read our no-sweat gym guide for tips on getting the most out of your membership.