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Gym charged 5,148 euros for a year of training

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              Unraveling Gym Memberships: A Cautionary Tale and Tips for Savvy Consumers

As the calendar flips to January, the gym becomes a pilgrimage site for resolution-driven enthusiasts. However, beneath the shiny exterior of fitness aspirations lies a cautionary tale brought to light by the Upper Austrian Chamber of Labour. The warning is clear: tread carefully, for gym contracts can be treacherous terrain, leading unsuspecting consumers into costly pitfalls.

In a recent press release, the Chamber of Labour highlighted the case of a woman who found herself on the hook for over 5,000 euros for an annual gym subscription. What started as a seemingly innocent inquiry about training costs at a local studio turned into a financial quagmire. During the oral consultation, the woman was led to believe that the monthly fee was a modest 99 euros. However, upon closer inspection of the contract received later, the stark reality emerged – a staggering total of 5,148 euros for twelve months. Early attempts at contract termination were met with resistance until the vigilant intervention of the Upper Austrian Chamber of Labour prompted the gym to prematurely dissolve the agreement.

To navigate the intricate web of gym memberships, the Chamber of Labour imparts three invaluable tips to potential fitness enthusiasts:

  1. Mind the Notice Periods:
    The legality of a twelve-month commitment for fitness studios is a grey area. Enforcing early termination can be a legal quagmire. To mitigate risks, the Chamber advises opting for monthly cancellable subscriptions. While monthly fees may be marginally higher, the flexibility to terminate the contract swiftly is a wise trade-off.
  2. Challenge Additional Charges:
    Consumer protection victories against gym chains emphasize that additional fees without contractual consideration are unacceptable. Whether it’s an activation fee, service fee, admission fees, or half-yearly charges, these are deemed inadmissible unless accompanied by specific considerations beyond the standard contract. Consumers are urged to scrutinize contracts for unjust fees and have them expunged before signing.
  3. Exercise Caution When Signing:
    The modality of contract signing is crucial. The Chamber of Labour issues a stern warning against signing gym contracts on tablets without due diligence. Consumers recount instances where they were denied the opportunity to peruse the contract before signing, receiving the terms only via email later on. Verbal assurances from gym staff, while legally binding, are challenging for consumers to substantiate post facto. To remedy this, the Chamber insists on consumers receiving a copy of the contract before signing on any digital platform.

In the labyrinth of gym memberships, awareness and vigilance are the keys to avoiding financial entanglements. As consumers embark on their fitness journeys, let this cautionary tale and expert advice serve as beacons to navigate the realm of gym contracts with prudence and foresight. Verbal promises made by gym employees are legally binding, but can hardly be proven retrospectively by consumers. To avoid this, the Upper Austrian Chamber of Labour demands that customers must be given a copy of the contract before signing on the tablet.

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