Freeletics – thinking about starting? READ THIS FIRST!
About this post
I have used Freeletics on and off since 2017. Recently I was pretty shocked by their customer service around their auto-renewal billing, and it seems I’m not alone. I wanted to share my experience to protect other people from losing money in the same way. If you’re a user of Freeletics, or you’re considering signing up, then read this post and most importantly, check out the steps in the conclusion to protect yourself.
First, the good things about Freeletics..
In order to provide some balance, I should talk first about the good things about Freeletics. I originally used the app in 2017 after seeing all the cool transformation videos on YouTube. At the time I was 18 months post having got into my best shape for a natural bodybuilding photo shoot with Chris Bailey (see photo below), and my physique was looking a little “fluffy” as I was no longer working towards a specific goal. I thought Freeletics might be an interesting tool, which would supplement my current training rather than replace it, and help me get into good shape for an upcoming holiday.
In fairness, I can safely say the app worked well in helping me lose weight and get fit. Even after a week of drinking and eating at an all-inclusive, I still felt I looked pretty good and felt confident in just my swimming trunks in the pool and on the beach, even if my abs were slowly starting to disappear…
At the time I was on this quarterly billing subscription – every 3 months I was billed £49.49, which seemed ok. It was basically £16.50 a month, which seemed was about the limit of what I was prepared to pay for an app. The main thing is that I was fully aware of the plan I was signed up to, and every quarter I would see “FREELETICS” listed in my bank statement.
One of the things I liked about it, was that in the summer I could use it to train outside, and even got the kids involved sometimes.
The bad things about Freeletics…
I often found the app unyielding and little clunky to use. The whole “coach” aspect, while I’m sure has some awesome coding behind it, seemed very rudimentary from a user perspective. Now the workouts worked well in the short term, and I can say that they made a a big difference to my weight loss and fitness levels, I could only use it for short intervals. As a short term tool to get in shape in i.e. 6-12 weeks, it worked great. Any longer, and a number of issues became apparent.
- The plyometric style training can be quite hard on the joints over time, especially as you progress into the longer workouts and “hell weeks”
- I don’t know what the average age demographic is for Freeletics, but as someone who would have been in his late 30’s at the time, I found my knees, wrists, shoulders, ankles all started to show signs of wear and tear, and my lower back started to become very stiff
- Over training
- With the above in mind, it’s hard in the app to properly understand how to feed this back in any meaningful way.
- As a result I would often train through things, and started to show signs of over training
- The progression seems to be primarily based around workout volume
- There are always going to be limitations when considering body weight workouts
- Advanced movements
- I was hoping to start using more of the advanced movements, but there was never an opportunity to practice these properly.
As I started using Freeletics less and less, the quarterly fee no longer seemed like good value. Because of the auto-renewal, I probably ended up paying for this longer than I should, but I accept responsibility for this. In total, between 5th June 2017 and 18th December 2019, I ended up paying £544.39. Which actually seems like a lot of money – it’s comparable to a gym membership. On reflection, I wish I had just used it for the first 3 months for my holiday and then cancelled, but it’s a life lesson!
The ugly things about Freeletics…
So now we get to the reason for writing for this blog post. The pandemic hit everyone in different ways, but gym closures was a biggie for lots of people. In our household, we had been very cautious about it, and even on writing this post, I haven’t been to a commercial gym since March 2020.
In December 2020, as it looked like we were about to enter our third national lock down, I saw a discounted Freeletics offer on social media – 12 months for £52.49. I thought having this app might be a good idea to help keep me fit and active when I only have a limited amount of training equipment at home, and compared to what I had been paying quarterly, £52.49 seemed like a good deal.
To be honest, I don’t actually remember using it at all. But logging into the app, it looks like I used it a few times up to mid-January 2021 and then I must have forgotten all about it. That is of course, until I saw the transaction below…
£74.99 for something called “TR 12MO”. I had no idea what this was, but after a few Google searches on “Munchen De” I quickly realised I had been billed by Freeletics. Clearly this was a mistake, or I had been signed up to an auto-renewal subscription. Now this is partly my responsibility; I assumed I had paid for a 12 month program but perhaps I was wrong. I should have known better having used them previously.
I checked my emails, and there are A LOT of emails from Freeletics, but there were no transactional emails forewarning of any upcoming billings, and crucially no details on what the amount would be given it was more than what I originally paid, and no opportunity to opt out.
Not a problem, I’ll contact the support and request a refund. I noticed the transaction on the 3rd January 2022, so it’s likely still within a refund period, and if they check, they’ll see I’ve not used the app since almost 12 months ago! The response which initially came from “Raphael” was pretty frustrating:
Unfortunately, I’m unable to refund you for recurring Coach subscription payments according to our policies. When you purchased your Coach subscription it was stated that the subscription renews automatically, unless you cancel it before the end of the chosen subscription period.
Wow. Well, your policies suck. I responded saying that I hadn’t used the app, didn’t intend on using it, didn’t know I was on an auto-renewal subscription, received no communication about the renewal, and notified them as soon as I had seen the transaction – surely there is a refund time period, and once again requested a refund. No joy… this was the response from “David”…
We are not able to refund your recent subscription renewal, however we would like to offer you a trial code for the remaining time of your subscription.
This trial code would enable me to redeem the time I’ve paid for at a more suitable time (useless), or gift the time to someone else (erm, no thanks). Seriously surprised that were being like this, I decided to try once more. This time I mentioned how I’ve been using the app since 2017, paid £671.87 to their business in that time, and how the lack of refund policy combined with no communication emails is not a very ethical way of doing business or treating their customers. My final response was from “Ben” where he then marked the ticket as “solved”…
To clarify our renewal policies, when you bought your Coach subscription contract, it was stated and you agreed to upon purchase that your subscription contract will renew itself automatically. Coach subscribers are able to cancel their contract at any time in the settings of your Freeletics account on our website or by sending us an email prior to the renewal of your contract.
In addition, at the time of purchase, you also agreed to the General Terms and Conditions, which included the auto-renewal of the subscription length that you originally purchased – unless you canceled the subscription before the end date.
I am sorry that we have not been able to resolve this to your satisfaction. Unfortunately there is nothing further I can do to assist you with this, and as such we will not be able to respond to future emails on this matter.
Yeah yeah, pointing me to the same T&Cs, brilliant customer service. I love the end line – “sorry we have not been able to resolve this to your satisfaction” and “we will not be able to respond to future emails in this matter”. Wow.
Needless to say, the only avenue I felt that was left for me was to flex my rights as a consumer and share my experience with Trustpilot. Perhaps I could save someone else from the same experience. That’s when I saw all the one-star reviews. It seems I’m not the only one, and everyone seemed to have the same issues:
- Not aware they were on a subscription (fair enough, this is on us)
- No email giving the chance to opt out
- Not showing Freeletics on the statement
- No refunds even when notified immediately
This too was reflected on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and even Money Saving Expert. People were very unhappy. Now, you can say that it’s our fault and that the T&Cs were clear. But, it seems very unethical when these customers clearly don’t want this service. I’m signed up to several auto-subscription services, and in the past if I’ve requested a cancellation i.e. with Amazon Prime, no problem. What makes it more infuriating, is that the responses are simply pointing us to the T&Cs, saying that we “could” have cancelled at any time, and then end statements such as “remember why you started you Freeletics journey, you can still reach your goals”, or the #ClapClap at the end. Ugh.
Clearly they don’t care about their customers, and are more interested in taking their money. I’m assuming many people have realised that Freeletics works best in the short-term, and so this billing approach with no refunds is their best way of keeping the revenue coming in.
A conclusion of sorts…
If you use Freeletics, and you like it, then great. Good for you. My only advice would be to cancel any current contracts you have, and then manually restart them at the end of the contract duration if you want to continue using it to avoid any auto-renewal issues. Logging into my account after cancelling, I can see that the subscription status shows the end date and the “cancel subscription” button is now “extend subscription”. I would highly recommend any Freeletics user does this.
If you’re considering using Freeletics, be aware of the auto-renewal subscriptions, and maybe think about whether this is the type of company you want to give your money to.