The fitness industry in NSW is subject to laws related to consumer protection and fair trading. These regulations cover issues like membership contracts and consumer rights, business practices, facilities and equipment standards.
This page includes information on:
- your consumer rights
- cancelling your membership
- what to do if you have a problem
- tips to help you be a savvy consumer.
Your consumer rights
Australian Consumer Law guarantees your rights when you buy goods and services.
In fact, most products and services purchased after 1 January 2011 come with an automatic consumer guarantee that the product or service you purchased will work and do what you asked for. This includes health and fitness services.
When you engage a business to provide a service, you have the right to expect ‘acceptable quality’. Services must be:
- provided with due care or skill (taking all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage)
- fit for any specified purpose (express or implied)
- provided in a reasonable time (when no time is set).
What is ‘reasonable’ will depend on the nature of the service, the difficulty of the task and other relevant factors.
Proof of purchase and documentation
You have the right to receive proof of purchase (like an invoice, cash register receipt, handwritten receipt or lay-by agreement).
Gym memberships are often delivered under a contract. Contracts usually have terms and conditions attached. It is your responsibility to be aware of these.
Advertising can be a powerful means of persuasion, so it’s important it is truthful, accurate and easy to understand. Australian Consumer Law protects consumers from deceptive advertising claims and conduct.
Businesses are not allowed to make false or misleading representations about their products or services. This includes advertising for fitness services.
Any statement regarding qualifications or experience should be supported and if licensed, the licence number should be printed on any advertising. Learn more about advertising standards.
Remedy when things go wrong
You are entitled to an 'appropriate remedy' from the business when the product or service you purchased does not meet one or more of the consumer guarantees.
This might be a refund, a further service to rectify the problem and in some cases, reimbursement for damages and consequential loss.
The type of remedy will depend on whether the problem is:
If the problem is minor and can be fixed, the business or provider can choose how to fix the problem. You cannot cancel the service/return the product and demand a refund immediately. You must give the business an opportunity to fix the problem.
However, if the remedy (service, repair or replacement) takes too long, you can get someone else to fix the problem and ask the business or provider to pay reasonable costs or cancel the service/return the product and get a refund.
If the problem is major or cannot be fixed, you can choose to:
- terminate the contract for services and request a full refund
- seek reimbursement for the difference between the value of the services provided compared to the price paid.
For more information, see repairs, replacements & refunds.
Cancelling your membership
If you need to cancel your membership, check your contract first. Like many contracts, cancelling a gym membership may mean paying a fee. Even if the contract requires you to visit the centre to cancel in-person, you should still provide a written cancellation as well. This means you can prove the date you requested your membership to end.
Learn more about contracts.
Have a problem?
- Contact the business in the first instance and explain the problem. We have tips and sample letters to help you take the first step.
- Check if the business is part of an industry body like Fitness Australia or Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA) and contact them for assistance.
- If the business is not affiliated with an industry body, or you have contacted the industry body and have not been able to resolve your issue, you can contact us for help on 13 32 20 or make a complaint online.
Be a savvy consumer
Before you sign up to a gym membership, consider the following:
- Are you getting the best deal? Don’t be pressured into signing up on the spot. Visit a few gyms to work out which is the best value for money, has the best facilities, service and location. Consider trying a casual membership for a month or a few visits to see if the gym is right for you.
- Special offers and promotions may not be as good as they seem. Never take the salesperson’s word for it. Read the terms and conditions so you know what you’re getting into before you sign up. Check the fees listed on the contract are the same as the price that has been quoted to you. Also check if there are any the administration fees. These are non-refundable even if you cancel the contract during the cooling-off period.
- Is there a cooling-off period? A cooling-off period allows you to cancel the membership in writing within a limited time period.
- Where will you be in six to twelve months? The gym may not be easy to access if you change jobs, work different hours or move house. Consider a three or six-month membership – they are often no more expensive than a 12-month one.
- Does the gym take direct debit payments? Lots of gyms ask for payment by direct debit. Just because your membership expires doesn’t mean the direct debits stop. You often need to provide the gym with 30 days written notice to stop direct debit deductions. Check the contract before you sign. If the fitness centre continues taking payments, talk to your financial institution.
"Remember, a membership means you have a binding agreement and you may have difficulty cancelling early. Some gyms charge up to $300 for cancelling a membership, so read the terms and conditions in your contract before you sign."