Johannesburg – Consumers must be careful when taking up gym memberships, the Office of Consumer Protection, a division of the department of trade and industry, warned on Tuesday.

Gyms use pressure tactics to secure contracts, complain consumers

The OCP receives regular complaints about gyms, “to the effect that fitness centres had made use of pressure tactics to coerce consumers into entering long-term contracts”, said spokesperson Sidwell Medupe in a statement.
Medupe said that some consumers were also not told about payment structures nor the length of the contract. Some had even unwittingly signed contracts for life.

Consumers have rights when signing contracts

The dti’s consumer and corporate regulation division head Aubrey Mathope said the fitness industry was regulated and that consumers had certain rights.

These include incorporating payment options – such as paying in advance or monthly payments, and a “cooling-off” period of at least five days after contracts were signed.

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Contracts for membership agreements that were longer than three years were also prohibited.

Read gym contracts first to avoid problems later

Mathope added that consumers were “advised to take their time to read contracts before signing their rights away, to avoid contractual problems and legal concerns at a later stage”.