Cooling off period extended and fairer contracts for fitness members
- Cooling off period for fitness industry contracts now seven days
- Terms and conditions of contracts and pricing made clearer
- New mandatory Code of Conduct to prevent high pressure sales tactics
New rules that cover an expanded fitness industry in WA are now in effect, giving consumers a longer cooling off period, clearer contracts and notice prior to automatic renewals.
The updated mandatory Code of Practice for the fitness industry increases the cooling off period after signing a contract from two to seven days, giving consumers more time to cancel the contract if they change their mind.
Clearer membership agreements, transparent pricing to make comparisons easier, protection of personal information and simplifying the cancellation process are other features of the new regulations.
There are also specific provisions to ensure that suppliers of fitness services and their staff don’t engage in high pressure sales tactics or make statements that are misleading or unfair.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe points out that the new rules will now apply to a wider definition of fitness service providers.
“The previous Code of Conduct was confined to gyms but, in recent years, there has been an expansion of fitness services being offered outside of gyms so the new Code will now also capture these new activities,” Mr Newcombe said.
“To ensure that contracts being offered to consumers are not confusing, the content and layout of contracts will be clarified and a summary statement included to help consumers understand their responsibilities and the costs involved. Whether it is a month-to-month renewal or a fixed term contract will be made clearer and the limit of 12 months on prepayment contracts remains.
“A major source of complaints against industry operators has been about the debit of membership fees from credit card accounts. Under the new Code, members with contracts longer than six months will be notified by the provider at least two months before the automatic renewal of their memberships to give them a chance to cancel it without penalty should they wish to do so.
“Members can cancel memberships via electronic notification and direct debits must stop immediately. Cancellation fees must be disclosed fully in the contract and be a true reflection of reasonable administration costs associated with the termination of the agreement.
“The new Code comes after extensive consultation with both members and industry operators and reflects changes in how fitness services are delivered, while creating a fair and level playing field.”
The Code can be enforced by seeking orders from the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) and a maximum fine of $50,000 can be imposed for failing to comply with these orders.
Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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