Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

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Topic Author
R2D2
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Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by R2D2 » Thu May 21, 2020 8:41 am

Once gyms reopen, I was going to join LA Fitness. They have pretty good monthly rates, except...
Recurring monthly charges must be paid by electronic funds transfer from your checking or savings account or automatic transfer from an accepted credit or debit card.
There's no way I'm letting some company have access to my checking or savings account, but even recurring billing to my credit card bothers me. I'm always concerned that they'll keep billing even after I've terminated membership, and then if I contest the charges, they'll claim that I didn't follow the exact cancellation procedure outlined in the contract. Am I being paranoid here? After all, there is some reason that they insist on recurring billing and I suspect it's a rather unsavory one.

Also, I'm not sure what "automatic transfer" from a CC is. Is that different from just charging me, and would I have fewer rights?

UpperNwGuy
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by UpperNwGuy » Thu May 21, 2020 8:42 am

I dislike all forms of autopay.

alfaspider
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by alfaspider » Thu May 21, 2020 8:44 am

I autopay all my bills, so gyms are just one more. On one hand, autopay can be dangerous because you can forget about all the little charges billed monthly and totally blow your budget. There is also the risk of over charge. On the other hand, manually paying bills would get extremely tedious and create the risk of a missed payment through oversight.

If you are worried about access to bank accounts, just use a credit card. Most card companies are happy to do a chargeback if you disagree with any charges. They can come after you for fees or make it difficult to cancel regardless of payment method.

The biggest thing is to use the gym! Large corporate gyms make a lot of money of folks who pay their monthly fees but don't go. Don't be one of those people who keeps paying out of guilt for not going!
Last edited by alfaspider on Thu May 21, 2020 8:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

desiderium
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by desiderium » Thu May 21, 2020 8:48 am

I don't worry much about automatic credit card charges, though I watch my accounts compulsively. Credit card companies have an interest in retaining your business, and are governed by various consumer laws. They don't have to do anything for LA fitness. As long as you dispute charges in a timely manner, you should be ok. Linking to bank accounts is something else, and I would avoid.

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Cyclesafe
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by Cyclesafe » Thu May 21, 2020 9:03 am

I wouldn't let anyone charge my card without permission. Make them earn your business. What if you can't or don't want to go? Life happens. Even a discount wouldn't be enough for me. Credit card companies are fine with reversing charges until they aren't.
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stoptothink
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by stoptothink » Thu May 21, 2020 9:05 am

Our local gym does not allow for paying up front and the fee to use a credit card as opposed to a checking account is nearly 50% of the entire monthly bill. So freaking annoying, but my wife refuses to workout in our garage half the year (when it is snowing outside) so it's pretty much the only option (I have a corporate gym along with my garage).

rooms222
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by rooms222 » Thu May 21, 2020 9:07 am

Yes, my gym is the only ACH debit that is pulled by the vendor. It is annoying. I have my insurance and power bill on credit card autopay because get a discount for the insurance (and points on the credit card), and the power bill because it is the only way to pay for free with CC.

I use a secondary checking account for the gym.

Topic Author
R2D2
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by R2D2 » Thu May 21, 2020 9:14 am

Thanks for all the replies.

That's super annoying that some gyms insist on drawing from your bank account (or charge you a huge penalty for using your CC instead). I like the idea of setting up a secondary bank account with a small amount of money in it. I'm thankful this gym still allows credit cards.

Ok, when the gym finally opens, I'll find out if it's even possible to avoid recurring billing (for example, maybe they allow it, but charge an extra $3/month) and then decide from there. I'm a little less worried about recurring billing after reading these replies. Still not a big fan though.

(Alfaspider: I'll definitely get my money's worth! I was a real gym rat before Covid shut everything down.)

Finally, does anyone know what "automatic transfer from an accepted credit or debit card" means? Is that different from just recurring billing to my CC? I've never seen that language before.

FeesR-BullNotBullish
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by FeesR-BullNotBullish » Thu May 21, 2020 9:18 am

It's annoying, but you've gotta play by their rules if you want to join. FWIW, I was pleased with LA Fitness when I was a member. It seems that once i opened the door for gyms to auto charge my account, it was easier for me to allow other businesses to do the same. It hasn't resulted in me being ripped off or scammed, and vendors are pretty good about communicating increased fees. However it's easier to pay the increased fees with autopay than it is when I use my bank's billing site. I'm less apt to shop around for a better deal. On the plus side, autopay has saved me a few late fees.

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galawdawg
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by galawdawg » Thu May 21, 2020 9:35 am

Yes, you have discovered one of the often overlooked but problematic business practices of some gyms (and newspapers, magazines, alarm companies, "product of the month" clubs and others that rely on subscription models) to require you provide them a mechanism to automatically take funds from your bank or credit card every month. That is a very intentional business model that in even the most legitimate operations exploit in order to keep inattentive customers paying whether they use the product or not. Some of them make cancellation difficult. For example, LA Fitness doesn't permit you to cancel online, by phone, by email or even by a normal letter. You have to log into your account, download their cancellation form, and mail it to them (they recommend certified mail) or hand deliver it to the operations manager (not to any other gym employee). There have been cases where customers hand delivered the notice to someone at the facility other than the operations manager and LA Fitness refused to honor the cancellation. The Wall Street Journal, which I enjoy reading, requires you to call them to cancel. You can't do it in your account online or by email or letter. They want you to call so they can attempt to keep you.

The worst offenders will ignore even valid cancellation notices and continue to take money from your accounts. So you are wise to be cautious. There are some gyms that don't require a payment method on file and will permit you to prepay for whatever period of time you are joining. You may consider one of those if a location is convenient to you. Otherwise, buyer beware!

stoptothink
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by stoptothink » Thu May 21, 2020 9:36 am

FeesR-BullNotBullish wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:18 am
It's annoying, but you've gotta play by their rules if you want to join. FWIW, I was pleased with LA Fitness when I was a member. It seems that once i opened the door for gyms to auto charge my account, it was easier for me to allow other businesses to do the same. It hasn't resulted in me being ripped off or scammed, and vendors are pretty good about communicating increased fees. However it's easier to pay the increased fees with autopay than it is when I use my bank's billing site. I'm less apt to shop around for a better deal. On the plus side, autopay has saved me a few late fees.
You are also less apt to notice the "maintenance fees" which, in my experience, are nearly equal to the normal gym fees. One of the sleaziest industries there is.

sd323232
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by sd323232 » Thu May 21, 2020 9:39 am

R2D2 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:41 am
Once gyms reopen, I was going to join LA Fitness. They have pretty good monthly rates, except...
Recurring monthly charges must be paid by electronic funds transfer from your checking or savings account or automatic transfer from an accepted credit or debit card.
There's no way I'm letting some company have access to my checking or savings account, but even recurring billing to my credit card bothers me. I'm always concerned that they'll keep billing even after I've terminated membership, and then if I contest the charges, they'll claim that I didn't follow the exact cancellation procedure outlined in the contract. Am I being paranoid here? After all, there is some reason that they insist on recurring billing and I suspect it's a rather unsavory one.

Also, I'm not sure what "automatic transfer" from a CC is. Is that different from just charging me, and would I have fewer rights?
i set up a standalone checking account for all reaccuring checking account charges. The amount i keep there is just enough to cover all charges up to three month and then i have automatic transfer into the account for the next three months. Never had a problem. Also, never link your primary checking account to anything, always have couple side checking accounts.

rooms222
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by rooms222 » Thu May 21, 2020 9:39 am

I think the automatic transfer language is to ensure they get access to the updater services from credit cards to keep charging you if you change card numbers or the expiration date changes. https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card ... r-1275.php

This means that unless you totally close your credit card account with the bank, they will keep billing you.

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Stinky
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by Stinky » Thu May 21, 2020 9:56 am

I'm not sure how "recurring billing for gyms" is different from recurring billing for many other services that I have.

Internet, streaming services, pest control, etc. all have recurring billing, which I choose to put on a cash-back credit card. With all of those services, I must take affirmative action to cancel future charges.

Why single out gyms?
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vasu100
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by vasu100 » Thu May 21, 2020 10:01 am

With Verizon Unlimited, they give you 10/month discount if you auto-pay from bank (but not for credit card). With 4 phones on family plan, it’s 40/month. So much as I dislike giving my account info to anybody, it’s done...

mptfan
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by mptfan » Thu May 21, 2020 10:06 am

R2D2 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:41 am
There's no way I'm letting some company have access to my checking or savings account, but even recurring billing to my credit card bothers me. I'm always concerned that they'll keep billing even after I've terminated membership, and then if I contest the charges, they'll claim that I didn't follow the exact cancellation procedure outlined in the contract. Am I being paranoid here? After all, there is some reason that they insist on recurring billing and I suspect it's a rather unsavory one.
I don't think you are being paranoid, I agree with you. I almost never allow recurring payments from my checking account, I have made very very few exceptions and only for companies that I highly trust. One exception I have made is for my local electrical utility, I allow them to auto debit my checking account and I haven't had any issues. As for a recurring credit card charge, I strongly dislike those also but I am slightly more willing to allow that because it's not my money, it's credit, and I can dispute the charge or ultimately claim that the card is lost and get a replacement with a new number. But for notoriously bad actors like gyms, I don't trust them and I would not agree to a recurring charge. But then you may be faced with the choice of not being able to join without agreeing to those terms.

Another notoriously bad recurring charge actor is Sirius XM radio.
Last edited by mptfan on Thu May 21, 2020 10:14 am, edited 4 times in total.

mptfan
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by mptfan » Thu May 21, 2020 10:08 am

Stinky wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:56 am
Why single out gyms?
Because they have a bad reputation for taking advantage of people with recurring charges and unfair terms that make it difficult to cancel those recurring charges like requiring the notice to be given in writing to the gym at least 60 days in advance (you can't do it online) and then "losing" the letter that attempted to cancel, or simply engaging in fraud and "forgetting" to stop the recurring charges. They rely on the fact that some people don't pay attention to recurring charges on their credit card and keep paying them month after month, or some people just don't jump through the right hoops to cancel. What do you do when you try to cancel but the gym keeps charging you every month? I have experienced variations on these themes with gyms in the past and it has left an impression.
Last edited by mptfan on Thu May 21, 2020 10:18 am, edited 6 times in total.

Calico
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by Calico » Thu May 21, 2020 10:09 am

R2D2 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:41 am
Once gyms reopen, I was going to join LA Fitness. They have pretty good monthly rates, except...
Recurring monthly charges must be paid by electronic funds transfer from your checking or savings account or automatic transfer from an accepted credit or debit card.
There's no way I'm letting some company have access to my checking or savings account, but even recurring billing to my credit card bothers me. I'm always concerned that they'll keep billing even after I've terminated membership, and then if I contest the charges, they'll claim that I didn't follow the exact cancellation procedure outlined in the contract. Am I being paranoid here? After all, there is some reason that they insist on recurring billing and I suspect it's a rather unsavory one.

Also, I'm not sure what "automatic transfer" from a CC is. Is that different from just charging me, and would I have fewer rights?
I don't think you are being paranoid. I had a recurring monthly charge to my checking account for fencing classes, years ago, that was a bear to stop. I cancelled the classes and they kept billing me. I vowed never to allow recurring billing again except for my credit card and only if I had no choice to just pay on my own. Granted, that was about 25 years ago, so maybe things are better, and I was eventually able to fix things. But it left an impression on me.

H-Town
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by H-Town » Thu May 21, 2020 10:23 am

R2D2 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:41 am
Once gyms reopen, I was going to join LA Fitness. They have pretty good monthly rates, except...
Recurring monthly charges must be paid by electronic funds transfer from your checking or savings account or automatic transfer from an accepted credit or debit card.
There's no way I'm letting some company have access to my checking or savings account, but even recurring billing to my credit card bothers me. I'm always concerned that they'll keep billing even after I've terminated membership, and then if I contest the charges, they'll claim that I didn't follow the exact cancellation procedure outlined in the contract. Am I being paranoid here? After all, there is some reason that they insist on recurring billing and I suspect it's a rather unsavory one.

Also, I'm not sure what "automatic transfer" from a CC is. Is that different from just charging me, and would I have fewer rights?
Check to see if your health insurance offers a "gym" access deal. My insurance offers $25/month membership that I can access many gyms nationwide, including LA Fitness, Planet Fitness, and many other gyms. A similar type of membership at LA Fitness would cost $35 alone. And I set up auto-pay using 2% cash-back CC with my insurance provider.

I travel frequently. In any cities that I visit, I have no issue finding a gym close-by. This is a great flexibility that I enjoy very much.

tibbitts
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by tibbitts » Thu May 21, 2020 10:29 am

alfaspider wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:44 am
I autopay all my bills, so gyms are just one more. On one hand, autopay can be dangerous because you can forget about all the little charges billed monthly and totally blow your budget. There is also the risk of over charge. On the other hand, manually paying bills would get extremely tedious and create the risk of a missed payment through oversight.

If you are worried about access to bank accounts, just use a credit card. Most card companies are happy to do a chargeback if you disagree with any charges. They can come after you for fees or make it difficult to cancel regardless of payment method.

The biggest thing is to use the gym! Large corporate gyms make a lot of money of folks who pay their monthly fees but don't go. Don't be one of those people who keeps paying out of guilt for not going!
I don't agree at all that card companies will readily do chargebacks when the merchant has a signed contract authorizing them to charge, as in this case. Well, yes they will do the chargeback, but in the absence of overwhelming evidence they will reverse the chargeback after "investigating."

dlw322
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by dlw322 » Thu May 21, 2020 10:37 am

Instead of monthly rates why don't you ask about yearly or multi year plans. I belong to LA Fitness for many years now. I signed up for a multi year plan where I paid three years upfront. My annual renewal is now much lower than most people that pay by the month, and it not recurring. I have to give them my credit card to renew each year.

Of course this only works if you continue to use the gym which many people don't...

alfaspider
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by alfaspider » Thu May 21, 2020 10:43 am

tibbitts wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:29 am
alfaspider wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:44 am
I autopay all my bills, so gyms are just one more. On one hand, autopay can be dangerous because you can forget about all the little charges billed monthly and totally blow your budget. There is also the risk of over charge. On the other hand, manually paying bills would get extremely tedious and create the risk of a missed payment through oversight.

If you are worried about access to bank accounts, just use a credit card. Most card companies are happy to do a chargeback if you disagree with any charges. They can come after you for fees or make it difficult to cancel regardless of payment method.

The biggest thing is to use the gym! Large corporate gyms make a lot of money of folks who pay their monthly fees but don't go. Don't be one of those people who keeps paying out of guilt for not going!
I don't agree at all that card companies will readily do chargebacks when the merchant has a signed contract authorizing them to charge, as in this case. Well, yes they will do the chargeback, but in the absence of overwhelming evidence they will reverse the chargeback after "investigating."
I've never lost a chargeback dispute, but I've never disputed anything where I wasn't in the right. Chargeback won't get you out of a legitimate contractual obligation.

cs412a
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by cs412a » Thu May 21, 2020 10:48 am

My gym membership is the fitness center at the local community college, paid for with a recurring charge on a credit card. I really like the vibe there - quiet, new equipment, great staff. The rates are very reasonable (especially for a senior). It's also easy to put a hold on membership charges for up to six months, which was useful for the months I was going to be traveling. All it took was a phone call.

I had to cancel my membership due to the pandemic, but plan to reinstate it once they reopen. You might want to check out local colleges to see whether they have the facilities you want and if they offer gym memberships to area residents.

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JMacDonald
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by JMacDonald » Thu May 21, 2020 11:01 am

dlw322 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:37 am
Instead of monthly rates why don't you ask about yearly or multi year plans. I belong to LA Fitness for many years now. I signed up for a multi year plan where I paid three years upfront. My annual renewal is now much lower than most people that pay by the month, and it not recurring. I have to give them my credit card to renew each year.

Of course this only works if you continue to use the gym which many people don't...
I agree with this. I am a member of LA Fitness, and I pay for two years in advance. It is less expensive than the monthly rate.
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Freefun
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by Freefun » Thu May 21, 2020 11:08 am

I pay LA fitness with a credit card. Worst case scenario is I dispute with the bank but I’ve never had an issue.
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

stoptothink
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by stoptothink » Thu May 21, 2020 11:14 am

JMacDonald wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 11:01 am
dlw322 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:37 am
Instead of monthly rates why don't you ask about yearly or multi year plans. I belong to LA Fitness for many years now. I signed up for a multi year plan where I paid three years upfront. My annual renewal is now much lower than most people that pay by the month, and it not recurring. I have to give them my credit card to renew each year.

Of course this only works if you continue to use the gym which many people don't...
I agree with this. I am a member of LA Fitness, and I pay for two years in advance. It is less expensive than the monthly rate.
Many gyms, including our local chain (VASA), do not allow this. It's no secret why. The entire business model is charging people for facilities/services that you hope the customers don't use.

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8foot7
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by 8foot7 » Thu May 21, 2020 11:20 am

I won't permit automatic drafts from my bank account. I will put recurring credit card transactions on a card that lets me do the virtual numbers - where you can get a unique card number, cvv code and exp date for a particular transaction - and give that virtual number to the merchant. That way I can easily turn off the merchant's access to billing. I will pay up to a 5% surcharge to use a credit card instead of a bank account in this scenario. I do not use vendors that insist upon recurring ACH withdrawals only or charge more than a 5% premium to accept a recurring credit card payment instead. (I have not renewed a security system contract, a swim lesson membership, and some other things because they insisted on either a year's prepayment or recurring ACH billing with no credit card option.)

mptfan
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by mptfan » Thu May 21, 2020 11:28 am

galawdawg wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:35 am
Yes, you have discovered one of the often overlooked but problematic business practices of some gyms (and newspapers, magazines, alarm companies, "product of the month" clubs and others that rely on subscription models) to require you provide them a mechanism to automatically take funds from your bank or credit card every month. That is a very intentional business model that in even the most legitimate operations exploit in order to keep inattentive customers paying whether they use the product or not. Some of them make cancellation difficult.
...
The worst offenders will ignore even valid cancellation notices and continue to take money from your accounts.
Exactly.

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BogleFanGal
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by BogleFanGal » Thu May 21, 2020 11:30 am

stoptothink wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 11:14 am
JMacDonald wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 11:01 am
dlw322 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:37 am
Instead of monthly rates why don't you ask about yearly or multi year plans. I belong to LA Fitness for many years now. I signed up for a multi year plan where I paid three years upfront. My annual renewal is now much lower than most people that pay by the month, and it not recurring. I have to give them my credit card to renew each year.

Of course this only works if you continue to use the gym which many people don't...
I agree with this. I am a member of LA Fitness, and I pay for two years in advance. It is less expensive than the monthly rate.
Many gyms, including our local chain (VASA), do not allow this. It's no secret why. The entire business model is charging people for facilities/services that you hope the customers don't use.
And some chains offer it, but don't actively advertise it. For years, my gym never mentioned annual memberships - all their marketing was on the standard business model - month to month- as others have mentioned. But they had an annual membership paid upfront- at a discounted rate - when I inquired with the manager.

The best time to ask is towards the end of their fiscal year, when they're looking for an influx of cash to bump up year-end numbers. My gym used to offer annual membership deals the month before the end of their fiscal (not calendar) year.
"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen." Mark Twain

DSInvestor
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by DSInvestor » Thu May 21, 2020 11:32 am

I dislike gyms. I don't have a problem with recurring or auto pay. I find them quite convenient.
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musicmom
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by musicmom » Thu May 21, 2020 11:55 am

I second H-town's suggestion about checking to see if your health care company offers membership in Active and Fit Direct.
It costs me $25 / month for Anytime Fitness, intead of twice that. There are many participating gyms.

I do have to grant autopay via credit card.
Worth the risk for savings involved.
Also, Active and Fit is suspending charges for months that gyms have been closed due to covid. All I had to do was ask.

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Wade Garrett
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by Wade Garrett » Thu May 21, 2020 12:19 pm

vasu100 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:01 am
With Verizon Unlimited, they give you 10/month discount if you auto-pay from bank (but not for credit card). With 4 phones on family plan, it’s 40/month. So much as I dislike giving my account info to anybody, it’s done...
Same for me. Verizon is the only bank auto draft I allow and only because of the discount. Gym membership is the only credit card auto draft I allow and only because it's required. All other recurring monthly payments are directed by me to them.

Marylander1
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by Marylander1 » Thu May 21, 2020 12:32 pm

8foot7 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 11:20 am
I won't permit automatic drafts from my bank account.
My policy is to permit automatic bank account drafts only for bills where I know and trust the director of finance to handle any problems personally. I push most bill payments from my bank account.

When billers make mistakes, they're usually in their favor. I've seen plenty of mistakes that would have been a major problem on auto-pay. My phone bill got crammed for services I never ordered. AT&T Wireless kept billing monthly charges and late fees months after I switched to Verizon. At expiration, my cable contract mysteriously became a business account. The water company replaced my meter and sent a quarterly water usage bill for $18,000.

In the auto-pay agreements I've read, customers are forced to indemnify the biller for indirect charges, including bank overdraft fees and charges for missed payments to other providers. They specifically say they won't pay to fix their screw-ups. Auto-pay feels like giving a marginally-competent friend my ATM card and PIN, hoping they'll withdraw the correct amount each month.

Marylander1

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jhfenton
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by jhfenton » Thu May 21, 2020 12:36 pm

With only one exception, I do not allow anyone to auto pull via ACH from checking unless I control the setup. I do have automatic 100% autopay set up for our credit cards, mortgage, gas/electric, and wireless, but I control those via the companies' websites. I can de-authorize those whenever I want.

The only company that auto pulls from checking is the insurance company that provides the 20-year term life insurance policies on my wife and me. At the time we bought the policies (2006), they had better rates for monthly checking auto-pull than for manual semi-annual payments. And since the amounts are small (combined just under $80/month), I allowed it.

I do allow autopay via credit card for quite a few merchants. That is how I paid my downtown gym used until I canceled it this week. They automatically suspended payments in March when they were forced to close, and when I emailed them last week, they canceled my membership and said I would get a partial month refund. (They will be reopening at some point soon, but since I will not be working in the office for the foreseeable future, the membership will be of no use to me.)

I had looked at a cheap chain that recently opened a location downtown, but they appeared to require checking account information, so I hadn't pursued it. That would 100% be a deal-breaker. (They were also a few blocks away as opposed to in my office building.)

mhalley
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by mhalley » Thu May 21, 2020 1:16 pm

If you don’t trust the gym, setup a free checking account and use it exclusively for that payment. Fidelity cma or Schwab bank should be fine for this.

azanon
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by azanon » Thu May 21, 2020 1:43 pm

No it doesn't bother me. I feel pretty protected if all a business has is my credit card, since in my experience, they tend to take my side during disputes.

And I don't mind the charges because what would bother me more is treadmills that don't function properly, equipment broke, etc. that they can't afford to fix because I'm too tight to see to it that they can afford to keep them fixed plus make a profit. The overhead on a large, and properly maintained and updated gym has to be pretty high, I would think.

DaftInvestor
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by DaftInvestor » Thu May 21, 2020 1:58 pm

My spouse set up auto-pay to a gym directly from our banking account. After she quit it took us months to finally get them to stop billing us. Each month they told her she was canceled and we wouldn't see another charge and then ANOTHER CHARGE POPPED UP. We tried to recoup the extra months but eventually gave up and decided it wasn't worth chasing them for the 3 or 4 months beyond cancellation they charged us for. I would have taken them to small claims court except was so busy at the time. Bank wouldn't help. NEVER AGAIN. I would be fine doing it on a credit card but never again out of a bank account.

inbox788
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by inbox788 » Thu May 21, 2020 4:15 pm

That's how gyms make money. Sign up a bunch of folks making new years resolutions on autopayment and never show up after February, and keep them paying for years. Without all those folks, the gyms would be making much less and the ones who use the gyms would be paying more.

Many if not most subscription business work this way, but Netflix is trying to stand out as being different.

Netflix will start cancelling inactive members’ subscriptions
The move is extremely unusual among companies that charge an annual subscription, and shows a measure of confidence in Netflix’s value proposition for customers. It may also help Netflix stand out against an influx of new competitors, including Disney+, NBCUniversal’s Peacock (which has a free ad-supported tier), and WarnerMedia’s upcoming HBO Max.
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/21/netflix ... tions.html

Anyway, I avoid these types of businesses, both gyms and recurrent billing, and especially when they combine the two. If you have a planet fitness nearby, take a look at their more basic offerings (thought they'll probably want recurrent billing too).

123
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by 123 » Thu May 21, 2020 4:25 pm

In the past Costco used to offer either 12 or 24 month prepaid gym memberships at a significant discount. I don't recall if they included LA Fitness as an option but I suspect there might be geographical variations. You might want to explore what they might offer. Sam's Club stores might offer something similar.
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whodidntante
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by whodidntante » Thu May 21, 2020 4:32 pm

My gym is publicly traded, so they offer huge discounts at the end of the year in order to make their financials look a little better. So I buy a prepaid Visa/MC card sufficient to cover the charge, and pay for an entire year of gymming with that, then put it in a sock drawer.

Good luck "auto renewing" that. LOL

It was a genius plan right up until a global pandemic closed gyms in many states and threw off my perfect system. :oops: [edit by Mod Misenplace]

Herekittykitty
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by Herekittykitty » Thu May 21, 2020 4:33 pm

The YMCA doesn't require auto pay where I live. Check with yours and see what they offer.
I don't know anything.

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2pedals
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by 2pedals » Thu May 21, 2020 4:42 pm

I have a fitness network offered through my health insurance. I autopay with my credit card. I can pause or cancel my membership with a simple phone call. The network includes the local community fitness centers, LA Fitness, Planet Fitness, 24 hour fitness, Anytime Fitness and others. I can go to any fitness club in the network. I have a unique credit card that I use for autopay only. I wouldn't give my bank account information and authorize autopay for a gym membership.

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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by New Providence » Thu May 21, 2020 6:10 pm

DSInvestor wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 11:32 am
I dislike gyms. I don't have a problem with recurring or auto pay. I find them quite convenient.
That's how Netflix works, auto pay.

TheNightsToCome
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by TheNightsToCome » Thu May 21, 2020 6:56 pm

R2D2 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:41 am
I'm always concerned that they'll keep billing even after I've terminated membership, and then if I contest the charges, they'll claim that I didn't follow the exact cancellation procedure outlined in the contract. Am I being paranoid here?
[/quote]

You are not paranoid. This happened to me almost 20 years ago. I have not allowed a recurring charge from a gym since then.

I did join LA Fitness in 2009 by paying for 3 years up front.

Helo80
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by Helo80 » Thu May 21, 2020 7:41 pm

UpperNwGuy wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:42 am
I dislike all forms of autopay.
I cannot imagine billing without autopay..... have to write out checks and/or logging on a website every month for all of my accounts....

Slacker
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by Slacker » Thu May 21, 2020 7:46 pm

I dislike recurring billing for a gym membership (among other things such as people not wiping down benches from their sweat) so much that I built a home gym.
The type of gym that would offer the equipment I wish to use costs enough to pay for my home gym after 4 years.

However, I do allow autopay for my utilities, insurance, and mortgages. I often review the billing amounts and most payments go through a cashback credit card but I did find my insurance bills had been going up higher each year with no apparent reason and changed companies recently (about a year or two later than I should have...so auto-pay got me there).

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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by tibbitts » Thu May 21, 2020 7:59 pm

alfaspider wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:43 am
tibbitts wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:29 am
alfaspider wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:44 am
I autopay all my bills, so gyms are just one more. On one hand, autopay can be dangerous because you can forget about all the little charges billed monthly and totally blow your budget. There is also the risk of over charge. On the other hand, manually paying bills would get extremely tedious and create the risk of a missed payment through oversight.

If you are worried about access to bank accounts, just use a credit card. Most card companies are happy to do a chargeback if you disagree with any charges. They can come after you for fees or make it difficult to cancel regardless of payment method.

The biggest thing is to use the gym! Large corporate gyms make a lot of money of folks who pay their monthly fees but don't go. Don't be one of those people who keeps paying out of guilt for not going!
I don't agree at all that card companies will readily do chargebacks when the merchant has a signed contract authorizing them to charge, as in this case. Well, yes they will do the chargeback, but in the absence of overwhelming evidence they will reverse the chargeback after "investigating."
I've never lost a chargeback dispute, but I've never disputed anything where I wasn't in the right. Chargeback won't get you out of a legitimate contractual obligation.
From personal experience I can assure you that you can lose a legitimate dispute; you've just been lucky so far and haven't. The only disputes I've lost have involved "pre-authorized" charges where I've signed an agreement to allow the merchant to make recurring charges to my card.

RobLyons
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by RobLyons » Thu May 21, 2020 8:09 pm

After 20+ years at my gym and I LOVE recurring billing for the gym. Just set it and forget it. And really this is the way it's been since I started in 1999. Never any issues besides updating my CC info on occasion

And during this pandemic they have not billed me since March. I think many people are too concerned with others having their info when the perception isn't as bad as reality. Good luck
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 » Thu May 21, 2020 8:11 pm

I dislike recurring billing. My gym asked me to pay a month or so when I quit going which I found annoying.
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Re: Do you dislike recurring billing for gyms?

Post by TravelGeek » Thu May 21, 2020 10:08 pm

Helo80 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 7:41 pm
I cannot imagine billing without autopay..... have to write out checks and/or logging on a website every month for all of my accounts....
Same here. Never once had a problem. If I suspected that a business (like a gym) was going to scam me, I would probably find a better business before signing up. My local gym is locally owned and many in my neighborhood go there and are generally happy. We pay annually, via direct charge to credit card.

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