'Unfair' gym contracts investigated

'Unfair' gym contracts investigated

Getting out of a gym contract can be almost impossible -- that's according to Consumer New Zealand after an investigation on gym chains across the country.

The consumer group says many gyms have "unreasonable cancellation clauses and unfair terms".

Exercise buffs are pulling their weight, but there are claims gyms aren't doing the same for their members.

"The contracts we looked at, most of them contained quite tricky cancellation terms," says Sue Chetwin from Consumer New Zealand.

Consumer New Zealand reviewed 10 gyms around the country and says many are at risk of breaching the Fair Trading Act by making getting out of a contract as difficult as possible.

"Contracts that finished after 12 months you have to give 30 days' notice that you want to cancel," says Ms Chetwin.

Configure Express is one such example. Its contract states: "Once the contract has reached the minimum term it will roll over until the member gives 30-day notice of their wish to cancel," says Ms Chetwin.

Another chain investigated was Snap Fitness, where you have to physically cancel your membership at the front desk.

Staff say the reason they push for over-the-counter cancellations is to find out why clients are leaving.

"We want to be able to help people with their fitness goals, so if they're cancelling for a particular reason we'd rather talk to them face-to-face and be able to sort of try and help them either stay at the gym and use their memberships or find out why they're needing to cancel," says Richard Calvert from Snap Fitness.

At Les Mills, if members want to break a contract, they have to pay a fee -- understood to be a third of the remaining term. Or they can on-sell their membership.

So while it might seem a little painful, the advice for those wanting to join a gym is to read the fine print. 


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