Consumers should know their right to cancel a gym membership or fitness club contract in Ontario.
Anyone who has ever felt the urge to get into shape may have seen some splashy fitness centre ads and dived into getting a new gym membership. Reality sets in, and then maybe you realize you didn’t have the time or this wasn’t for you.
If you enter into a fitness club membership agreement in Ontario, you have a right to a 10-day cooling-off period that applies after a copy of the contract is issued. During this period, membership holders may cancel the contract for any reason, and should do so via email or written correspondence with the fitness club.
After the cooling-off period expires, contracts may be cancelled within a year if they lack certain information required by the Consumer Protection Act 2002 Part IV (under personal development contracts), such as the amount that will be charged, a description of the services and guarantees, the nature of the payment method, and conditions of cancellation and renewal.
All fitness club contracts must end after one year by default, unless they are automatically renewed by the fitness club with proper notice within 1-3 months before the expiry of the membership.
Consumers ought to check the fine print in their contracts before signing (while looking for false or misleading statements and unconscionable consumer representations), recognize the nature of the terms and length of their commitment, and be alive to their right to cancel agreements and aware of the service guarantee requirements that fitness clubs must live up to.
Consumers must also keep in mind that the Consumer Protection Act does not apply to the following:
- Memberships that cost less than $50 in advance;
- Memberships offered by non-for-profit charitable organizations (such as the YMCA), recreation centres funded by the province, and cooperative-owned fitness clubs; or,
- Incidental fitness services that are part of other services or facilities. It is important to keep an eye on how fitness contracts are classified and whether they deviate from the personal development contract classification.
Non-compliance with the Consumer Protection Act allows consumers to cancel their agreement at their election upon the delivery of a Notice of Cancellation to the supplier. Aside from rescission, consumers may also have access to restitution, and actions in common law. If consumers in Ontario have been wronged by fitness clubs, they have the right to submit a Consumer Complaint Form to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
You can learn more about cancelling gym and fitness membership contracts by discovering the following links and resources:
- The Consumer Protection Act (legislation) at https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/02c30#BK38
- Joining a gym or fitness club (Ontario government publication) at https://www.ontario.ca/page/joining-gym-or-fitness-club
- Filing a consumer complaint (Ontario government publication) at https://www.ontario.ca/page/filing-consumer-complaint
- Consumer Complaint Form (Ministry of Government and Consumer Services) at https://www.consumerbeware.mgs.gov.on.ca/esearch/compform/english/complaint.jsp
- What are my rights when entering into a gym contract? (article) at https://consumers.findlaw.ca/article/what-are-my-rights-when-entering-into-a-gym-contract
- Gym memberships (blog post) at https://www.mannlawyers.com/business-law/gym-memberships/
- Prepaid and personal development services (article) at https://www.legalline.ca/legal-answers/prepaid-services/