Customers have accused a company offering subscription services to Hong Kong gyms of hiking their rates without warning. Fitness startup ClassPass has defended its price adjustment, however, saying members were given advance notice.

Several customers aired their frustrations on social media over the past week, with some saying they were charged around 50 per cent more than their intended monthly commitment.

New York-based ClassPass, which expanded to Hong Kong last October, told HKFP that the price rose because their “introductory launch pricing” ended.

ClassPass. Photo: Google Play screenshot.

“At the time when prices were raised, ClassPass had been operating in Asia for about 6 months and our limited time introductory pricing had come to an end,” said representative Lauren Craft.

She added that members were given at least two to three months’ notice of the switch and, in general, ClassPass provides at least one month’s notice before any price change.

ClassPass said members should have received an email telling them that their monthly plan will cost HK$618 starting from February 8, 2019. The same plan had previously cost HK$399.

Email ‘opt-out’

However, some members told HKFP they never got the email. “Basically, I was never informed of the increase in prices – nothing in my emails or the app,” said customer Esther Wong.

Alice Chan, another ClassPass user, wrote on Twitter: “[A] notification about changing our credit/price plans would have been nice. I don’t mean the email that you supposedly wrote everybody but none of my friends received. Rude.”

When asked about the discrepancy by HKFP, ClassPass forwarded the email it sent to members but said those “who opted out of email communication may not have received the email message.” The company added that there should still be notifications in their mobile app.

Currently, the firm offers five monthly pricing plans ranging from HK$288 to HK$1,788, as well as a two-week free trial. The company said customers are allowed to cancel anytime.

Classpass gym
Photo: ClassPass, via Facebook.

According to Channel NewsAsia, some ClassPass customers in Singapore also saw their subscription prices nearly double last month. A company spokesperson also attributed the Singaporean price hike to the end of introductory launch pricing for Asia.

ClassPass acquired GuavaPass – one of its major Asian competitors – at the start of the year, but the company told CNA that the price adjustment was unrelated.

The latest incident coincided with a Hong Kong public consultation on a statutory cooling-off period for beauty and fitness services consumer contracts, which will last until mid-April.

In a report dated April 2018, the Consumer Council said it receives around 500 complaints a year related to fitness clubs. Since 2014, about one-third of those complaints are related to sales practices.

Additional Reporting: Tom Grundy.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.