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Refund rules: when your gym has to give you your money back

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For many of us, going to the gym is a healthy feature of our weekly routine. Yet in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, it can be the exact opposite.

On Monday, the federal government ordered the closure of gyms - though outdoor training groups of 10 are still permitted - leaving many wondering about the status of their memberships.

Most of the big gym chains have either put their memberships on a time-freeze, or will allow memberships to be frozen. Fitness First, Snap Fitness, Plus Fitness, Fernwood, and Goodlife health clubs have automatically paused all client memberships.

coronavirus refund gym membership

Anytime Fitness provides the option of continuing to pay $2.50 a week in exchange for access to online training or freezing their membership, while Jetts members will continue to be charged $3.50 per week "to provide our franchise owners with enough funds to keep their heads above water".

Australian consumer law clearly states that businesses can't receive funds for services not rendered - so direct debits should stop and, if they haven't, you should be entitled to a refund.

"A business isn't allowed to keep charging you for a service that they're unable to provide. Your gym should offer you a suspension of fees or cancellation as they close. If you've paid fees in advance, talk to your gym about your options," says Jonathan Brown from CHOICE.

However, up-front payment is less clear, and depends a lot on the terms of your contract.

"Look closely at your contract and see what options are available - many gyms are providing proactive refunds or credit notes for future use," Brown says.

We're cutting through the confusion to help you manage your money during the coronavirus outbreak. Click here for more on how COVID-19 could affect your job, budget, super and investments.

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David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.
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