Gym complaints prompt warning from Fair Trading

Less than half of all complaints are offered any redress.

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 to cancel.

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 Fair Trading.

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.