Fair Trading (Code of Practice-Fitness Industry) Regulation 2003 - Queensland

Description

The policy objectives of the code are to:

  • ensure appropriate standards of trading are maintained in the fitness industry
  • promote client confidence in the fitness industry
  • ensure fitness services are supplied to clients in an ethical and professional way, taking into account the interests of clients
  • establish rights and obligations between suppliers and clients for: fitness services offered and supplied; and the disclosure of relevant information to clients entering into agreements for fitness services.

The Fitness Industry Code of Practice covers the following areas:

Preliminary provisions;

General rules of conduct;

Disclosure and confidentiality;

Membership agreements;

  • interpretation
  • suppliers obligations before entering into membership agreements
  • requirements for membership agreements
  • types of membership agreements
  • entering into membership agreements before fitness centre opens
  • terminating membership agreements

Complaints handling procedures.

The code has been developed to ensure consumer protection by regulating the contractual conduct of providers of fitness services. Gym and fitness centre closures in recent years have resulted in consumers losing significant amounts of money in prepaid memberships, including memberships of up to five years in length.

The objectives will be achieved by including in the code the following key features to ensure fair dealing between fitness suppliers and consumers:

  • introduction of a 48 hour cooling off period for clients entering into membership agreements;
  • an obligation on suppliers to disclose all fees in writing to prospective clients before a membership agreement is made;
  • a requirement for membership agreements to be in writing and signed by the client and the supplier;
  • a prohibition on a supplier receiving more than one years fees, where membership agreements are for longer than one year;
  • where a membership agreement is made before the fitness centre opens, a prohibition on suppliers collecting any fees until the centre commences to operate. The client's cooling off period commences from the time the centre opens.
  • provision for membership agreements to be terminated during the cooling off period or because a client suffers permanent incapacity. Fees paid will be refunded less an administration fee (capped at the lesser of $75.00 or 10 per cent of the membership fee) and fees for services already provided.
  • the termination of membership agreements by written notice from a client.

Service type

Code of Practice

A code of practice can be either a legal requirement or non-legal requirement. Legal codes of practice are defined as a result of legislation. Non-legal codes of practice are defined by industry regulators and bodies.

Lodgement process

Comply

Compliance Mechanisms and Penalties

Compliance with the code is mandatory for all suppliers of fitness services.

Without limiting the above, the supplier must comply with the code even though:

  • a client asks the supplier to do something contrary to the code; or
  • if a supplier is an employee, the supplier's employer asks the supplier to do something contrary to the code.

The code covers-

General Rules of Conduct:

  • claiming membership or endorsement
  • high pressure tactics, harassment or unconscionable conduct
  • soliciting through false or misleading advertisements or communications
  • signs at fitness centre.

Disclosure and Confidentiality requirements:

  • disclosure of information about fitness services
  • availability of code
  • disclosure of information about fitness centre
  • confidentiality.

Membership Agreements:

  • meaning of cooling-off period
  • disclosure of fees
  • membership agreement to be in writing and signed
  • what a membership agreement must state
  • fitness services offered under membership agreement
  • limitation on membership agreement of more than one year
  • on-going agreement
  • membership agreement allowed
  • no fee payable until fitness centre opens
  • notifying clients of opening of fitness centre
  • terminating membership agreement during cooling-off period
  • terminating membership agreement because of sickness or incapacity
  • other termination of membership agreement.

Complaints Handling Procedures:

  • complaints by client
  • complaints handling procedures.

Breach of the code will expose a supplier to enforcement provisions contained in the Fair Trading Act 1989, including enforceable undertakings, injunctions and orders for compensation.

Contravention of this code is a ground for:

  • seeking an undertaking under the Act, section 91I;
  • obtaining an injunction under the Act, section 98;
  • seeking an order for compensation or other remedial order under the Act, section 100.

Examples of harassment:

  • using, or getting a third party to use, threatening or intimidating language or behaviour towards a client.
  • engaging in conduct that would make an ordinary person feel unwittingly compelled to comply with a supplier's request or demand.

Examples of unconscionable conduct:

  • taking unfair advantage of a supplier's superior bargaining position relative to a client
  • requiring a client to comply with conditions not reasonably necessary for the protection of a supplier's legitimate interests
  • if it is reasonably apparent a client cannot understand relevant documents, taking unfair advantage of the client's lack of understanding
  • exerting undue influence or pressure on, or using unfair tactics against, a client.

A supplier must not tell a client a reward or gift is free if the fitness services to which it relates is increased in price or decreased in quality because of the reward or gift. A supplier must also take reasonable steps to ensure an employee does not tell this to a client.

Examples of signs at fitness centre:

  • display in a prominent position on the reception counter
  • display at eye level on a wall that clients view on first entering the fitness centre.

Example of when information must be lawfully used or disclosed:

  • to comply with legal processes.

Additional information

As a fitness service provider, you must display health risk warning signs under the Fair Trading (Code of Practice-Fitness Industry) Regulation 2003. These signs must be clearly visible to any person entering the fitness centre.

An electronic copy of the signs is now available for you to download from the Office of Fair Trading website, there are two designs to choose from. More information about the obligations of fitness providers under the Regulation is on the Fair Trading website www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au.

Administering agency

Department of Justice and Attorney-General

Office of Fair Trading

Fair Trading Policy Branch

Contact details

Contact Email, Phone and Address Details for this service in simple two column table format, header then data.

Queensland Government Service Centre

Fair Trading Policy Branch

Office of Fair Trading

Department of Justice and Attorney-General

Operating address: Upper Plaza Terrace
33 Charlotte Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4000
Mailing address: GPO Box 3111
Brisbane, Queensland 4001
Phone: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)
Phone: 07 3405 0985
Website: Office of Fair Trading (Opens in new window)