Three fitness and health clubs have agreed to change their contract terms to offer improved cancellation rights to their members, following an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
- extending rights for members to cancel their contracts early if their circumstances change in such a way that attending the gym becomes difficult or unaffordable, for example through losing their job or suffering an injury;
- a commitment to not describe membership as being of a fixed duration, if the contract automatically continues on a rolling basis at the end of the initial membership period;
- improved transparency about key membership features, such as initial membership periods and cancellation rights. These need to be provided up front.
The OFT's investigation into gym contracts was sparked by a previous High Court ruling against Asbourne Management Services, a gym management firm, back in 2011. Members had been locked into contracts for unfair periods of time and without adequate cancellation rights. The OFT believed others may be behaving in a similar way.
The OFT now has a section on its website dedicated to your rights when taking out a gym contract. It says it is continuing to investigate other companies in the sector.