OFT obtains undertakings from fitness club operators

The OFT has obtained undertakings from three more companies which have or manage over a million gym members between them, in which they have agreed to give consumers better cancellation rights and make their contract terms more transparent. This follows an OFT investigation and an agreement earlier this year by three other fitness club operators to change their contract terms. The OFT is writing to 20 other health and fitness operators highlighting contract terms and commercial practices which may be considered unfair and advising them to review their contract terms.

The undertakings include extended rights for members to cancel early should circumstances change (through e.g. injury or loss of employment), a commitment not to describe membership as being of fixed duration if the contract automatically rolls and greater transparency about key membership features.

In 2011, the OFT obtained an order from the High Court that certain terms of Ashbourne Management Services (which provides membership services to over 70 fitness clubs) were unfair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations and unfair business practices under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

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