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Consumers urged to check gym contracts

  • National Consumer Agency urges consumers to carefully examine terms and conditions if planning to join a gym in the new year
  • Over 400 consumer complaints / queries dealt with by NCA in 2009

30 December 2009

The National Consumer Agency has advised consumers who are considering becoming gym / leisure club members in the New Year to read the terms and conditions of the membership agreements carefully.

In particular, the NCA warns consumers to check the cancellation clauses before signing any contract.

The Chief Executive of the National Consumer Agency, Ann Fitzgerald, said: "In 2009, the National Consumer Agency received over 400 queries / complaints on gym related issues.

"A significant number of these were as a result of consumers not having read or fully understood the conditions of their membership agreements.

"Consumers should be vigilant when signing up for gym membership and should take time to consider all aspects of the contract.

"Despite our best intentions in our new year's resolutions, our enthusiasm for going to the gym may ease off as the year progresses. Therefore, it is important that potential members are aware of the termination clauses before committing to a contract."

Ms Fitzgerald emphasised how important it is for consumers to be aware that cancelling direct debits did not mean that they have cancelled their contracts.

She indicated that the gym operator would be within their legal rights to follow up on non-payments until such time as the contract is properly terminated.

"Consumers should clarify any queries or concerns with the operator in the event that they wish to end their contract with the gym."

Since 2007, the NCA has agreed revised terms and conditions with some of the largest leisure and fitness clubs in the country. Also following consultation with the sector's representative bodies, the Agency published guidelines for the sector on the drawing up of fairer and clearer contract terms.

These guidelines were published in tandem with a voluntary seven-point best practice code for the sector.

She also urged consumers who are considering joining a leisure club or gym, to seek out the best value by asking plenty of questions and not be unduly influenced by special offers and deals.

Potential members should:

  • Enquire as to whether short term / trial memberships are available
  • Ask if there is a "pay per visit" option
  • Clarify what is included in the membership fee
  • Check whether there are any additional costs
  • Find out if the contract is automatically renewed
  • Check what notice of cancellation is required

Learn more

Find out about the NCA's guidelines for fairer contracts in the leisure and fitness sector