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Joining a gym or a club? Know your rights as a customer

People exercising

By Juliano Oliveira

Among your new year’s resolution is the intention to join a gym, aquatic centre, martial arts club or a yoga studio? Go forward, but just do not forget one essential item: your rights as a consumer.

When more Queenslanders are decided to initiate a new sport, costly fees and contracts may sneak up at this time of the year. Always ask questions before signing up for a new membership.

“Doing your research and knowing your consumer rights will make sure that you get the best deal for your workout,” Acting Attorney-General Mick de Brenni said.

Communication still the best channel between consumer and provider. Both parts need to be aware of their obligations and information, such as ending an agreement or any associated cancellation fees. 

With the contract in hands, check for applicable charges, like ongoing membership costs and one-off administrative payments. 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.

According to Mr de Brenni, the fitness provider cannot offer a pre-paid agreement with an expiry date of greater than 12 months from the date of purchase.

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

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

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

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