I signed the contract. So I'll pay the fee this time, but it is completely unfair, and I am canceling my membership. I plan to take my business elsewhere and read the contract closer next time.
This gym contracts out the monthly credit card charges to a third party. If your credit card is declined for any reason, the contract says they can charge you a $10 fee, even if it is no fault of your own. Of course, they are not charged for declined credit card charges, so this is pure profit.
I don't know about you, but my credit card issuer declines charges all the time when there is a fraud alert on my account. If they detect fraudulent activity, they shut down all authorizations. If Planet Fitness' credit card processor tries to charge your card before you are able to call your bank and resolve the fraud alert, you are out of luck.
My wallet was stolen recently on the 15th of the month. I went into my gym on the 16th to change my credit card details, only to find out that charges go through on the 17th, and if you don't change your payment method by the 10th, the old information is used. What kind of ancient system is this? The practice may also be illegal. If I withdraw my authorization for automatic payments in this state, I believe the merchant must honor the withdrawal of authorization immediately.
Worse yet, my credit card was linked to my whole family's accounts, so they charged a $10 fee for each member. What a crock!
Anyway, the bottom line is that you should refuse to sign PF's contract as-is, and if they refuse to change it, take your business elsewhere.
P.S. The owner tried to wiggle out by saying that it's not his fault, that he does not benefit from the fee, and that perhaps my credit card issuer would refund the fee (yeah, right - that makes sense). PF needs to rethink the third party service they are using to process their customers' fees. Until then, STAY AWAY!