From several television reports, it appeared that some fitness centers in Belgium use very strict, and sometimes unlawful, contractual conditions towards their customers. On a political level, a draft bill was negotiated to regulate these problems, but the draft bill was never voted. The authors of the article describe some of the most common issues that arise in this context, such as the fact that it was established that some fitness centers do not provide the customer with a copy of the contract, the fact the contract itself refers to general conditions which can only be consulted online, the term of the contract (which sometimes is a contract for a determined period of time, which automatically renews after such time has elapsed), etc.
As to unfair commercial practices, the authors refer to some practices which are contrary to the applicable rules in this respect. For example, to attract consumers, some centers call potential clients a number of times, after having obtained their number through existing customers, which could be infringing the blacklisted provision on making persistent and unwanted solicitations by telephone, fax, e-mail (paragraph 26 of Annex I to the Directive 2005/29).
Another unfair practice that was identified is the situation where a fitness center urges a consumer to immediately sign the contract, as more beneficial conditions are offered to those customers who immediately sign the contract (lower price, exert services, etc.). This practice is prohibited in case the trader "falsely states that a product will (…) will only be available on particular terms for a very limited time" (paragraph 7 of Annex I to the Directive 2005/29).
The article gives an overview of the points of attention a consumer should be aware of when considering to sign a contract.