Thursday, January 21, 2010

Open Letter to an Industry of Douchebags

Dear Reader,
You should know that I've been brewing about this for over 2 weeks. I have a lot to say on the matter. Grab a cup of coffee or a shot of Buttery Nipple and stay awhile.
Foaming at the Mouth

Dear President/Owner/Head Money-Hungry Whore of Gold's Gym (AKA Urban Active, AKA Everything-That-Is-Wrong-With-America),

Let me first say that this is partially my fault. There is a whole tribe of folk who do not need or want a gym membership. Their cabinets are overflowing with kickboxing, Yoga, and dance DVD's...their Wii-Fit exists in a perpetual state of "ready"...they are not distracted by a sink of dirty dishes and cat puke on the rug. They can exercise at home. Successfully. I am not one of those people. I need the membership card, the perky tween wishing me a very happy workout (which, coincidentally I've never had...except when I fell asleep in Yoga), and the smell of sweat mixed with the smell of chlorine mixed with the smell of naked old lady buttcrack. I need this. We are limited to basically 5 gyms here in Bluegrass Country. I have been fired from that brings us to 3 (tip of the day: if you spread malicious rumors about the new management while trying to convince the new management that you deserve a pay raise, you will inevitably be fired).

I had all of the flashing red signs I needed when I toured your facility the first time, in 2003...when you were called Gold's Gym. I had just returned to UK to finish my degree in Kinesiology (and yes, you should make all of your staff Google that term before their 1st day on the job. I do not work with dead people....if you knew your Latin, you would see the root word, kinesis which has nothing to do with post mortem). While touring the cardio theater, the sales guy asked me what I was studying at UK. I told him and mentioned that I was hoping to sit for the ACSM exam after which point he waved his hand and muttered, "I don't know what all of those letters stand for." I would like Only the Most Recognized Certification for Personal Trainers for $600, please Alex. But hey, I'm sure he was hired because he could sell sand to Saudi Arabia. Fair's a business. Although knowing the basics would be refreshing. We didn't join the gym specifically because he thought I taught the alphabet to dead people....but that was only after we were locked (yes, friends locked) in his office for over an hour while he did everything short of knocking us unconscious and forging our names on checks made out to Gold's. I should have known. That's a giant clue, isn't it?

Do you know what's an even bigger clue? When the gym changes names. Red flashing sign. With strippers on either side (but not beautiful-look-once-and-then-look-away strippers...these would be Sideshow Bob strippers with 7 fingers and all possible genitalia).

And yet, when BFF Crazy Sue asked me to join with her while Neal was off fighting for our freedom...I said yes. I went into it knowing that Urban Active was formerly Gold's Gym. Except that they had classed up the joint a bit with customized Pilates training and a boutique featuring Ed Hardy-esque wife beaters. Deep inside the memory muscle of my brain, (reserved for fights had with Neal and all of the ways big business has wronged me) I remembered that you were number crunching, customer service munching sons of whores and...I said yes anyway. I blame the war and the ensuing loneliness that comes with working out alone.

Well, Neal came home and proceeded to grumble (although less frequently at first) about the extra 20 minute drive to your nearest location. Your Palomar center is nestled nicely between Panera and my bank so it was never an issue for me. But for Neal, who has a narrow window of time in which to work out, it was a hassle. His answer? Just skip it. My Army Strong husband was softening in all the places he used to ripple and we were now donating to your establishment. Fortunately for us, Snap Fitness is literally 2 miles from our house. No pool, no track, no customized Pilates training...but they do have treadmills, strength training machines, and we could walk to our sleep. Plus, they were waiving enrollment fees at the end of December and the one thing we don't pay is enrollment fees. Ever. Eventually you'll get desperate enough and waive them. We'll wait.

So, we decided to cancel our memberships with your fine (yet fairly dirty) fitness center right after Christmas. We brought in our membership cards and spoke with the well-mannered, customer service-oriented, 20-something* working the front desk. She gave me the appropriate paperwork to fill out, informed us that it would cost us an additional $10 in processing fees to cancel and that we would owe until the first of February (because y'know, there's a 30-day processing period. Kids, I managed a gym. I know that it does not take 30 days to process my cancellation. It's not being shipped to Bombay, it's being walked to the office in the back of the gym. But somehow, over time, this has become an industry standard. I tried to explain it to Neal. All I got were eye rolls and explicatives). Fine.

Although...this was not really fine because when I joined, the sales guy (read: piranha in a golf shirt) convinced me to pay my last month's dues up front. He explained that when I was ready to cancel, I just did so without paying any more money. I had never heard of this tactic. It was like Urban Active was doing me a favor (First name: Easy, Last name: Target). So, I wrote a big fat check with a smile on my face. I was being screwed and I was smiling about it.

We left the gym, went home, and were preparing for our marathon trip to the Windy City when 20-something called my cell phone to say that she actually needed paperwork on both of us. One form = one membership. I listened to the voice mail and made a mental note to stop by when we returned from the North Pole.

At my next opportunity, I headed over to finish the paperwork (did I mention this place is not really convenient?). 20-something remembered me (probably as Neal's nicer half...he gave her a lot of eye rolls, too) and handed me the form. I filled it out, handed it back to her and asked her about the billing for February. And then it all went to Hell. It went a lot like this:

Me: So, our last billing cycle will be in February, correct?
20-s: Let me take a look (clickety-click-click...think of Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents as he's trying to get a flight, any flight, away from Robert De Niro). Oh here it is...your husband's last payment will be February 15th, yours will be March 1st.
Me (the sound of the abacus adding up payments in increments of $50): Wait, what? Why won't mine be February 1st? They were supposed to be canceled at the same time.
20-s: But you just now filled out the paperwork for yours.
Me: Yes...but our intention was to cancel both of our memberships. Both of our names were on the first form.
20-s: You didn't say you wanted to cancel both memberships.
Me: Both of our names were on the form. What else could that possibly mean?? (At this point, I'm dangerously close to losing all of my cool. But I've been the 20-something front desk staff enough to know there's nothing she can do about it). That's fine. Can I speak to your manager?
20-s: Sure. Just a sec.

Manager: Can I help you?
OK...when I say that this 20-something was the front desk staff just last week, I'm not doing so for dramatic effect. She was just last week folding towels and checking people in and cleaning toilets. I am all for the hands-on managerial style...but she was NOT a manager last week.

I explained my dilemma...that, while unfortunate, this was not my error and that I didn't feel it was offering good customer service to make me pay for their mistake.
Manager: Well, she called to tell you that we needed another form, right?
Me: Yes, but we were headed out of town.
Manager: I'm sorry, but we did everything in our power to let you know that you needed to fill out another form. You'll be charged for March.
Me: I don't understand why you can't backdate this form to match the other.
Manager: We just can't.
Me: This is not my fault (now using my outdoor voice because that's what being shafted out of $50 will do to a girl).
Manager: Well, this is not our fault either. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.
Me: No, misunderstanding would imply that you are not intentionally screwing people out of money to pay for this Hell-hole. This is just fraud.
Manager: Hmm....
Yeah, you ponder on that one while I plot my revenge and possibly the destruction of every pane of glass in this joint.
Me: Let me speak to whoever is above you.
Manager: There isn't anyone above me.
Me: I think I may have chortled or at least slipped a snort here. YOU'RE it?
Manager: Yes.
Me: Well, that explains a LOT. I think this is disgusting customer service and I'm putting it on my blog, my Facebook page, and my Twitter profile.
Manager: OK! Have a great day.
Not wanting to spend another night in jail, I restrained myself from lunging at her with the sole purpose of wrapping my jagged claws around her esophagus and strangling the life out of this snotty, arrogant, entitled little bitch. But it did cross my mind.

And that is why, Gold's Gym AKA Urban Active AKA Whatever-You-Have-to-Change-Your-Name-to-Next-Because-We-Are-On-To-You-Like-Pantyhose-On-Hoover, you will never see our bank account again. Will this rage-fueled post read by all 30 people make a difference in your bottom line? No. People need a gym membership in January like they need 7 loaves of bread before an ice storm. I know this has David and Goliath written all over it...but you need to know that these are not the principles that a good business are built upon. Screwing the customer will only work so long before Karma raises its ugly, pimply face and bites you on the bottom line. I hope I get to see it.

An opinionated housewife with a big mouth and access to the internet

My apologies to most other 20-somethings. I know that you are not all worker bees in the hive of the devil.


  1. Wow....I'd be double-super pi$$ed too!!! Thankfully, I'm one of those work-out-at-home types, so I haven't had a gym membership in awhile ;)

  2. Ok I have sooo many comments for this.

    First of all: I am one of those easily distracted, can't work out at home people also. So I have had a gym membership constantly since like 2002.

    Second of all: Let me just tell you something else about Gold's Gym. I decided I was going to leave my ultra expensive gym and go to Gold's instead because it was cheaper. Right away I realized my error as the place was a complete dump and all the machines were broken constantly and the only other people that worked out there were hairy, sweaty hunk of meat using the free weights. So I stuck it out for as long as I could, but eventually said screw it, rejoined expensive gym and would just pay out the rest of my membership at Gold's.

    Once I gave M my key card to use so that he could go work out. The membership wasn't even being used. So he went and about 10 minutes into his stint on the elliptical trainer, he was practically yanked off the machine by the manager and tossed out the door because they figured out he was using my membership.

    Then the time came where I could cancel so THAT DAY I went in and filled out the paperwork. Twit behind the counter faxed it over to the main office and (thankfully) I asked her if I could please have a copy of the form for my records. It's a good thing I asked because they kept charging me. I called and complained. They said it was fixed. Suddenly COLLECTIONS is calling me wanting the money. Finally after like 3 MONTHS of this, I get through to the a-hole in the billing department who claimed that he never received my fax cancellation. Thank GOD I had that copy.

    Sorry for my rant, but they are all the devil. I want to reach through the computer and wring that girl's neck for you. Ok I think I need to go for a walk now...I'm like really keyed up! hahaha

  3. Woah. Sorry for the comment that is as long as your blog!

  4. I'd say, in this instance, you would be well within your rights to back hand her. My word, how RUDE!

    Also, I have a hard time believing that they don't have a corporate office or something. The manager isn't the owner, so... WTF!? These people are delusional. Sorry you have to deal with that crap. I'd be flipping my lid about the extra $100+ too!

  5. You just let it out, girl! I love it. And screw them. IT IS FRAUD! I have to say, i love it when some company gives me a really good reason to get really ugly with them. Because you gotta get that shit out some time.

    I really liked the, "YOU'RE IT?" That was truly awesome. I only wish I could've heard it being said first-hand.

  6. I hate you Urban Active. I really really hate you. For what you have done to Allyson and the pain and hurt you have caused. She will have to undoubtedly go home and drink away the pain to provide some numbness from your thoughtless, moronic callousness.

    I would watch your back Urban Active. You blow big time. You can take your ed hardy wife beaters and stick em where the sun don't shine.

    Very disappointed with you Urban Active. You should be ashamed.

  7. Geez, that sounds like an issue I had with a gym about five years ago... down to the "being locked in an office" and everything! I ultimatley had to cancel my credit card because they refused to quit charging it, even though the length of contract had expired. It was AWFUL.

    Oh, and I know what kinesiology is... my hubby has a minor in that!

    Confessions From A Working Mom

  8. I think this gym exsists in every city of 10,000 and up--just under different names! Our local version keeps calling to let you know you've won a free months membership--with a montly autopay plan that lasts approximately until your youngest starts college. The smarmy "salesperson/manager" creeped me out so badly--if we had been in a locked room there would have been h3ll to pay!

  9. Trying throwing the "Attorney General" at them. I have and it has worked. They don't want the AG checking on their ethics or practices.

  10. "and the smell of sweat mixed with the smell of chlorine mixed with the smell of naked old lady buttcrack. I need this." Just graphic enough to make me laugh, but not so much so that I regruge lunch on my keyboard. Nicely done!

  11. I am shocked...ok, I'm not, because back at the end of high school I was that girl who was wiping sweat off benches and bleaching the heck out of some towels. I agree, they are of the devil.

    "YOU'RE it?" Priceless! Wish I could've been a fly on the wall for that moment. ;)

  12. See, THIS is why chain gyms = epic fail. It's not that most of the training they endorse is ineffective or that much of their equipment is unsuited to actual fitness (hack squat machine, anyone?). I can and do ignore all of that at Washington Sports Club four days a week. No, the defining quality of their suck is that most folks simply give their money away to chain gyms and take nothing in return, but these same companies aren't content just taking money for free. They have to put their hands down your checkbook and cop one last feel just to prove they can.

  13. Did you tweet this? I'll retweet to have more eyes see it. You know. Like Heidi ad Spencers. Oh and Chris Hanson, since he is following me now, too. Maybe he can put it on dateline!

  14. Go in with the roller blades and a short ski rope and get on one of their treadmills at max speed. They'll help you cancel your membership most rapidly after that...

  15. You are hilarious! 'Pantyhose on Hoover' is classic. I know this is a rant and you're mad and everything but there are some wonderful zingers in there.

    PS Don't hate me but my gym is free. The hospital I work for has one and we can take free Zumba classes there, too. I think we have to pay for personal training. It's not swanky but you can't beat the price.

  16. THIS is why I hate gym memberships!!! They are SUCH bottom feeders!

    We've had 2 Gold's open in this area and I work with the owner (on doing print jobs for them). Needless to say they are behind in payment to us as well as another local printer/mailing firm. They are such smoozers and they drive me insane. Always asking if we want to join. HELL NO! There are a few other gyms here - one that is really expensive but it's a mom and pop and I have a few friends that go there and LOVE IT! I would never want to go to a Gold's simply because it's a meat market and I can't handle that.

    I've always found the best way to get out of a membership is to tell them you're moving. When they say where - make sure you say somewhere that has NO chance of a Golds being close or convenient - This has worked for me a few times in smaller gyms. I've also used the excuse that I lost my job, I got no dollars suck it gym!

    What makes me angry is I tried to apply for the YMCA on a sliding scale and I apparently make too much money for that... SAYS WHO? You know the world would be a much less fatty place if they learned to make gym memberships more affordable!

    I may eventually go back to the gym but for now I'm resorting to working out at home. I do better in a gym environment if I feel comfortable and working out on my own than with another person. I just can't bring myself to want to go there.

    I love how you described the smell of the gym - SPOT ON!

    I hope this new gym is better to you ! Might I suggest writing an open letter to the local newspapers for their sound off columns about this company!!! ;) Might help out other people in the same situation as you!

  17. Try this link, I'm not sure if you can make a fan page without having a profile page but I guess I can't see why you couldn't.

  18. OK! I tweeted Chris. I hope he busts their ass like like a child molester.

  19. Here from a retweet via Surferwife. These people ARE such douchebags. I have had a couple of bad experiences with gyms that refuse to accept my cancellation notice and keep taking money out of my bank account. I HATE Gold's Gym or whatever they call themselves now. Jerks.

  20. i have been lucky to not have any issues with my gym, but i have had issues like this other places (i.e. banks with millions of dumb fees). TRES annoying. i know they are feeding me a line of bull with "there's nothing i can do", it takes everything i have to not start screaming!

  21. Listen, I'm pissed just reading this. WTH is wrong with people? Gyms are so notorious for this. We had a 14 day free trial for our local gym and like HELL I was paying 100 bucks a month to work out with college students. So after our 14 days, we didnt' go back and they REFUSED to leave us alone! Blech!

    I hate being screwed out of money...banks, DirecTV, credit cards, etc. I've had many a nasty conversation with innocent customer service reps!


That's it, let it all out....