Three gyms – including one chaired by Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne – have agreed to make their terms more transparent for consumers following an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Bannatyne Fitness, David Lloyd Leisure and Fitness First clubs will also give better cancellation rights to members, which number almost one million between them.
The OFT launched its investigation after a High Court ruling against a gym management company found lengthy membership periods could be unfair when they locked people in without adequate cancellation rights if their circumstances changed.
It said all three companies co-operated with the investigation and had given undertakings that they would no longer use contract terms or practices considered unfair by the OFT.
Under the agreement, the OFT said it had secured extended rights for members to cancel their contracts early if their circumstances changed in a way that made attending the gym difficult or unaffordable.
The companies have also agreed to stop describing membership as being of a fixed duration if the contract automatically continues on a rolling basis after the initial period expires.
They will also have to provide greater transparency about membership features, including initial membership periods and cancellation rights, with these to be provided as part of the sales process.
OFT spokesman Cavendish Elithorn said: “We were concerned that contracts could unfairly lock people in if their circumstances changed, forcing them to continue paying even if they had lost their job.”