Fitness Centres may have missed Sales 101

A few years ago, my youngest and I had a membership at a big, new gym near our home. I actually wrangled a deal with the manager that I could cancel BOTH of our memberships if my daughter got sick. As a single parent, if my kid is sick, it means I’m not at the gym either.

After much negotiating, he agreed and we signed up.  I paid $54/month each then.

After a while, my daughter got sick, and eventually I was able to go in and cancel, with a doctor’s note. We haven’t been back in about 18 months or more.

Now that my eldest resides with us, and she’s working full-time, she’s taken out a membership (and is paying for it herself). The cold weather is settling in and the youngest and I are thinking it’d be nice to be at the gym again. Strangely enough, as I was walking to the bank during the week, a dude on the street asked me if I’d like a 10 day pass.  “Heck yeah” I said, and he handed me a voucher. “Can I have one for my daughter too?” I asked. He verified she was 15 or older, and handed me a second one.

Last night, we decided to wander down to the gym and have a workout. So we signed in with our new 10 day pass. As we were walking up the stairs to the fitness area, the gal at the front desk came running after us letting us know we had to ‘activate’ our pass. Back we went and stood around for a few minutes. Out comes this young fella, promises to activate our pass, it’ll be “no problem” and only take “a few minutes” I’m assured. I’ve been around a while. When some kid says this to me, it’s my personal assurance that there will be a problem, and I’m gonna sit there for at least a half hour.

He goes into his story about how the 10 day pass is a “temporary membership“, so basically one has to become a member, and the first 10 days is free. If I want to cancel after 10 days, that’s cool. If I don’t, the membership fees kick in. As I’m sitting there with my daughter, and we both have our winter coats on, this crazy idea in my head that this isn’t going to go well is reinforced. I suggest he look us both up in his computer, since we were former members, and perhaps he can just click a button and we’ll be members again. Of course that’s far too simplified. We need identification, signatures, paperwork and credit cards.

I started my protest. I say “when the dude on the street approached me, I asked point blank: is this complicated, or can I just use my 10 day pass and workout for 10 days?” I was told they’d try and sell me a membership (which I expected) and otherwise, there were no strings attached.

So, back to dude at the sales desk. I tell him I came with my daughter for a workout, and in my head that didn’t mean I needed ID, or a VISA card or anything else. I have my headphones and a towel, nothing else. I ask him if I can just go have a workout and I can bring in the whole nine yards next time I come. He goes to check with his manager. Insert another 10 minutes here. My daughter is now being uncomfortable because she sees this as a showdown, and she hates anything that seems like confrontation, even if it’s just a discussion. He returns to tell me he actually can’t find his manager.  After a few minutes he leaves again and comes back announcing the 10 day pass isn’t valid for us to use, it’s only for individuals who have never been members before.

Wow. What a great way to entice former members NOT to return to your facility. Don’t treat them as if you have any of their personal information, and don’t give them any perk to say “hey, we had buckets of your money before, and we miss you, let us give you a little something to remind you why you miss us”.

So, we left and tossed his useless 10 day pass cards on his desk.

Trouble is, I’d like for my youngest at least to have her pass back. Being active is an important part to anybody’s health, but especially hers. I just DREAD the thought of dealing with these sales guys. I’ll be totally honest and tell you all I see are guys who have big muscles and very little in the way of smarts or customer service skills. I mean why would neither the guy on the street who handed out the pass or the sales guy who assured me it’d be “no problem” to activate my pass not ask that one qualifying question first:  have you been a member with us before? It would have saved us all about an hour, and a whole lot of heartache for my daughter.

So today I’m trying to see if I can fit that $108 total back into the budget again for December onward. Trouble is, if I do, I’m going to have to spend another 30 minutes with one of these guys that I’ve already decided aren’t bright, and can’t make any decision without checking in with a manager you never see. I like the gym, I like the location. I just don’t like how complicated it is to get in or out the door.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Hey McMom – I’ve played organized sports or had a home treadmill all my adult life so I’ve never had a need for a gym membership.
    But if you can hang in there until January, most gyms have BIG promotions to entice new members or get previous members back. You may get a much better deal if you can wait until then.


    • That’s a good tip, Kelsi. I called the Manager at the gym to inquire about the post-Christmas rates, compared with my rate from almost three years ago that he agreed to honour. He said my rate is much better than any upcoming promotional rate. (My eldest is paying $22 more per month than I would be paying for myself and the youngest).

      I appreciate the tip! I wouldn’t have thought of that!


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