As the summer season is coming to a end, many of us are left wondering what happened to our resolutions to get fit and stay active. If your fall’s resolution included becoming a member of a gym, sports / fitness club, karate and other martial arts studios or similar facilities, then there are a few things that you should know regarding your rights under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (the “Act”).
If you sign a membership contract that requires you pay $50 or more in advance you are protected under the Consumer Protection Act in the category referred to as “personal development services.”
All agreements are subject to a 10 Day Cooling Off Period. This means that you can cancel a membership by providing written notice within 10 days after receiving the written agreement, or the day when services in the agreement become available, whichever is later. This allows you to try out the facility to make sure your are satisfied with the services you are receiving.
All agreements are required to end after one year. Agreements can only be renewed if the club complies with certain requirements under the Act, such as:
- Providing you with a notice at least 30 days, but not more than 90 days before the agreement expires, that advises that the contract will be renewed.
- Not extending or renewing the agreement if you notify the club, before the time for renewal or extension, that you do not want to renew or extend.
Keep in mind that if you received a renewal notice and did not respond to it, the club has the right to renew your term and bill you under the renewed contract. However, if the club renews your membership without notice, you have the right to terminate the renewed agreement and demand the return of any money charged after your term ended. As with any agreement subject to the Act, you have the right to cancel within one year if you can prove that the club has engaged in an unfair practice as outlined in Part III of the Consumer Protection Act, 2002.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice to keep in mind is to always read any contract thoroughly and understand its terms. Feel free to ask questions. If paying by automatic withdrawal from your bank account or credit card, always be aware of when the term of your contract begins and ends and how much you are being charged. That way you can keep your fitness resolution without losing your resolve.
Yaroslav Diduch is a partner within Lancaster, Brooks & Welch LLP, Family and Litigation law department and he may be reached by calling 905-641-1551