Santa Monica fitness brand Beachbody is fined $3.6 million over automatic renewals

Beachbody, a Santa Monica fitness brand behind popular exercise regimens such as P90X, agreed to pay $3.6 million and change its sales practices after an investigation found it was applying recurring charges to customers without their legal consent.

The maker of exercise videos, supplements and weight-loss programs was found to have charged customer credit cards automatically for subscription renewals, sometimes after so-called free trials.

Under a judgment Monday by Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff of the Santa Monica Superior Court, Beachbody will have to disclose renewal terms, provide a checkbox for customers’ consent, allow easy cancellations and send reminders of upcoming renewals.

Beachbody, which says it has 23 million customers, did not respond to a request for comment.

“The Santa Monica city attorney’s office is committed to protecting consumers from unfair and unlawful business practices,” said Santa Monica City Atty. Lane Dilg. “This is an important victory to ensure that consumers will not be subject to recurring charges imposed without their clear approval and consent.”

Automatic renewals have proven highly profitable to businesses because consumers often aren’t aware of them or forget to cancel them after a free trial.

The city attorney’s office believes the injunction involving Beachbody is the first in California requiring a separate online checkbox to ensure customers know they’re signing up for a product or service with automatic renewals.

The city is also requiring Beachbody to provide reliable scientific studies to back its health claims. Prosecutors say the company made false or misleading claims about products aimed at fighting aging, inflammation and mental decline.

The city attorney’s office said the judgment is the result of an undercover investigation, consultation with scientific experts and negotiations with Beachbody’s attorneys that lasted more than two years.

Beachbody agreed to pay $2.6 million in penalties and $1 million in restitution to non-profit groups advocating community health and nutrition.

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