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Planet Fitness Sued Over Billing Practices During Pandemic

Planet Fitness in Manchester, NH
Jon Greenberg, NHPR
Planet Fitness in Manchester, NH

Planet Fitness is facing a potential class action lawsuit filed by a member who alleges the New Hampshire-based gym chain charged membership fees despite the facilities closing their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Antonio Holloway, a resident of Georgia, brought the suit in federal court late last month. He alleges Planet Fitness debited $19.99 from his bank account on March 18, well after his local franchise closed in the first week of March due to the pandemic.

[Click here to read the lawsuit]

Planet Fitness hasn’t yet filed a legal response, but in a statement, a company spokesperson rejected Holloway’s main claim.

“We can confirm that the plaintiff was not billed while the local facility was closed due to COVID-19, and we believe this lawsuit is without merit,” the company said.

A lawyer for Holloway didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The suit asks a judge to grant class action status, claiming that “millions of members” spread out across the country were charged fees after the fitness centers closed, totalling more than $5 million.

In a tweet, the company wrote that “the timing of mandates and closures lead to some of our members being billed shortly before we closed.” The gym says it has frozen all memberships, and is not charging any fees while its facilities remain closed.

After learning of the charges to his account, Holloway, according to his suit, attempted to contact Planet Fitness through both a phone number and an online chat service, before being directed to a telephone number that went unanswered. 

Planet Fitness drew the attention of the Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich in late March for its policy requiring anyone seeking to cancel their membership to visit their local franchise in-person, despite those locations being closed.

“We appreciate the circumstances your business is facing and the fact that Planet Fitness has frozen all accounts until the gyms are operational again, but consumers still should be given the opportunity to cancel remotely if needed,” wrote Brnovich in a letter to the gym

Planet Fitness is currently allowing members to cancel via certified letter, or over the telephone while clubs remain closed.

Other major gym chains, including New York Sports Club and LA Fitness, are also facing lawsuits over the timing of their billing of membership fees during the pandemic.

(Editor's note: this story has been modified)

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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