Watchdog tells gyms to make contracts fairer

Marion Dakers
GYM members will be able to cancel their contracts more easily, after the Office of Fair Trading struck a deal with LA Fitness, Dave Whelan Sports and gym management firm Harlands Group.

The companies have agreed to let customers end their membership if they lose their job or suffer an injury, and have pledged to make it clearer when a fixed-term contract will be renewed automatically.

The watchdog is also writing to 20 other fitness operators to make sure gym members get more information about the details of their deals.

“As a result of our investigation, millions of gym members now have better contract terms, including improved cancellation rights that prevent them being unfairly locked in if their circumstances change,” said Cavendish Elithorn, the OFT’s executive director.

“This should be a warning to the rest of the industry that we will not hesitate to take action where we find evidence of consumers being treated unfairly.”

LA Fitness chief executive Martin Long said the firm welcomes the findings, adding that the gym’s contracts already adhere to the “vast majority” of the watchdog’s recommendations.

Earlier in the year, the OFT closed its investigation into Bannatyne’s Fitness, David Lloyd Leisure and Fitness First after the firms agreed to improve their terms and conditions.