Updated fitness industry code will extend cooling off period

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The code of practice will be expanded to include other fitness service providers apart from traditional gyms, such as personal trainers and group exercise organisers. File picture

THE cooling off period for fitness industry contracts will increase to seven days from the current 48 hours under an updated mandatory code of practice that will come into effect on July 1 next year.

The new code, to be part of the Fair Trading Act, will be expanded to include other fitness service providers apart from traditional gyms, such as personal trainers and group exercise organisers.

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 do not engage in high pressure sales tactics or make statements that are misleading or unfair.

Consumer Protection commissioner Lanie Chopping said the updated code addressed some new issues identified with fitness memberships.

Ms Chopping said there had been big growth in the variety of fitness services being offered outside of gyms, so the code would be widened to capture those providers as well.

“The content and layout of contracts will be clarified and a summary statement included to help consumers understand their responsibilities and the costs involved,’’ she said.

“It will be made clear whether it involves an ongoing month-to-month renewal or is a fixed term contract of no longer than 12 months.

“Members are to be notified by the provider before the automatic renewal of their memberships to give them a chance to cancel it without penalty should they wish to do so.

“Cancelling memberships can also raise issues for consumers so the regulations will allow for full disclosure of cancellation fees in the contract, electronic notification from members and immediate cancellation of direct debit arrangements.

“Cancellation fees need to be a true reflection of reasonable administration costs associated with the termination of the agreement.

“The new code was developed after extensive consultation with the public and industry and submissions overwhelmingly supported the continuation of an updated industry code.”

The Fitness Industry Code of Practice can be viewed on the Consumer Protection website Inquiries can be made by email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 304 054.