The organisation has received more than 300 complaints on the subject between the start of 2018 and October 2019.
A survey of the complaints, Test-Achats said, shows that sellers of gym subscriptions make all sorts of fine promises when concluding a sale, but that many of the clauses in the contract are unclear or downright problematic.
Problems encountered include a lack of transparency on prices and the practice of prolonging a contract without explicit agreement, as well as restrictions on the possibility of ending a contract in cases of illness.
Test-Achats looked at the contracts offered by ten fitness chains, and is now asking the government minister for consumer affairs, Nathalie Muylle (CD&V), to amend the code of conduct for gyms of 2016 to make it more restrictive, and to accompany the code with more inspections and sanctions for malpractice.
As well as the organisation’s own analysis, a survey of the complaints received highlights a range of problems: problems with ending a contract prematurely, even on the basis of a legitimate medical certificate; difficulties in suspending a contract which, for example, spending an extended period abroad or during a certified illness; conditions which change in the middle of the contract term, on matters such as hours of access, additional charges for certain facilities.
“It goes without saying that complaints and offences discovered and listed by Test-Achats could be taken up and sanctioned under the legislation on economic rights,” the organisation states. However there does exist a code of conduct agreed with the sector in 2016, which offers the chance to tackle the problems more directly. “Sadly, there are too few signatories, too little information on the existence of the code, too few inspections and too few sanctions. Test-Achats is requesting the current minister for consumer protection to take steps, because the situation at present is far from brilliant.”