The Office of Fair Trading has used its powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to get Total Fitness UK to agree to revise its membership agreements to make them fairer for consumers.
The gym with 24 clubs throughout the UK has given an undertaking to change its terms and conditions to comply with the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.
The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (UTCCRs) protect consumers against unfair standard terms in contracts they make with traders. The OFT, together with certain other bodies, can take legal action to prevent the use of such terms. The UTCCRs can protect consumers from terms that reduce their statutory or common law rights and from terms that seek to impose unfair burdens on the consumer over and above the obligations of ordinary rules of law.
When Total Fitness has made the changes the membership terms will be clearer and fairer for consumers when they sign up. The new membership agreement will:
- contain clearer terms relating to the circumstances in which Total Fitness may seek to exclude or limit its liability for loss suffered by consumers
- make clear that Total Fitness does not have absolute discretion to change its opening times, or change, reduce or cease facilities without providing any rights for the consumer, and
- provide clearer information of the circumstances in which a consumer may cancel their agreement.
As well as changing terms for new members, Total Fitness has also agreed not to enforce any of the contested terms in existing membership agreements.
If the undertakings are breached the OFT can seek a court order, which if not adhered to, can result in proceedings for contempt of court.