Office of Fair Trading demands more consumer-friendly gym contract

UK health clubs chains certainly like to keep the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) staff on their toes. This time it is Total Fitness UK (a 24 club chain) that has been told to revise its membership contract to make it clearer and fairer.

The company has been asked to amend its contract in the following three areas:

  • Contain clearer terms relating to the circumstances in which Total Fitness may seek to exclude or limit its liability for loss suffered by consumers.
  • Make clear that Total Fitness does not have absolute discretion to change its opening times, or change, reduce or cease facilities without providing any rights for the consumer.
  • Provide clearer information of the circumstances in which a consumer may cancel their agreement.

Mike Haley, OFT Director of Consumer Protection, said:

‘Gym agreements, like any other consumer contract, must be balanced, fair and understandable. We have worked closely with Total Fitness to secure these changes and we believe that consumers will find the new membership agreements much clearer and fairer.’

It’s unsurprising that consumers are losing faith in contracts, when some companies choose to draft agreements that are unbalanced and unnecessarily complex.

So what’s the answer? Rather than tie members up with a complex contract, why not smother them with great service instead.