How to cancel your gym membership

Find out what rights you have when you want to cancel your gym membership, and what you can do if you think your contract terms are unfair.

1 Gym memberships in poor health

Which? surveyed 543 British adult gym members in October 2013 about cancelling their gym contracts. Here's what they told us:

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2 Cancelling your gym membership

Make sure you read the terms and conditions of your gym contract before you sign up to check if you have the right to cancel. 

Some gyms do allow you to cancel as long as you give one month's notice but check the terms and conditions to see what notice period is required.  

It's also worth noting that some gyms may tie you into a minimum term contract. 

3 Unfair contract terms

Unfair terms include terms that allow any trader to fundamentally change the characteristics of the goods or services on offer without good reason.

For example, if you sign up to a gym contract for use of the swimming pool, which the gym subsequently closes, this could be considered to be a fundamental change.

Contract terms that tie you in for longer than 12 months are also likely to be considered unfair. So may sure you read the terms and conditions.

4 OFT gym investigation

An investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT)  in 2013 found that there should be extended rights for gym members to cancel their contracts if their circumstances change, such as suffering an injury. 

The investigation also stated that initial membership periods should be provided upfront as part of the sales process.

Some contract terms can’t be challenged though, including how much you pay for your membership. 

So, you can’t automatically cancel your membership if you find out you could get the same package cheaper elsewhere.

However, a clause which allows a major price increase, but doesn't allow you to end your membership, could be considered as unfair.

For more information, see our guide on your rights if you're trapped in your gym membership.

5 Write to your gym

If you believe any of the terms in your gym contract are unfair, your first step should be to write to the gym explaining why you think the term is unfair and stating the amount of money you think you should get back.

Use our letter to your gym cancelling your gym contract because of unfair terms.

If your gym refuses, you should escalate your complaint through the gym’s formal complaints procedure. 

The next step in a dispute is court action or a dispute resolution scheme.

Unfortunately, there isn't an ombudsman for gym contracts, but this doesn't mean all is lost.

Small claims court

You can use the small claims court for most cases.

The total you can claim in England and Wales has risen to £10,000. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, it’s £3,000.

Using the small claims court should cost you relatively little, but you’re required to pay the fees needed to take a claim through the small claims court in advance.

You also need to comply with all the steps set out in the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct before you start court action.

For more information, see our guide on how to use the small claims court.

6 Complaining to the CMA

If you decide you don’t want to pursue a claim in court, you can still take steps to ensure others don’t fall foul of the same unfair term.

From April 2014, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has been replaced by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Regulation for lending to consumers has moved to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The CMA will work to enforce consumer protection legislation and will tackle practices and market conditions that make it difficult for consumers to make choices including unfair terms in consumer contracts and any issues related to poor competition.

Use our letter to report unfair terms to the CMA in England & Wales, or our letter to report unfair contract terms to . 

You can also report the matter to your local trading standards department. 

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