Aaron sent us this postcard he received from Work Out World. Amidst the grammatical landmines and asterisks to nowhere, it purports to offer membership for $9.99 per month with no enrollment fee and no commitment. Aaron even called to confirm that he had read the offer correctly, and was told he had. When he got to the gym, however, he ran into trouble.
Here’s Aaron’s email:
I’ve been a reader of Consumerist for a while now and finally have a story to submit. It’s not as heinous as many of the others I’ve read on the site and I was able to simply walk away in the end, I still think it should be brought to people’s attention.
I got the attached postcard in my mailbox the other day. Needless to say, it has a lot of confusing, conflicting, and misleading information on it. It appeared that there are two different offers on the front of the card; one for a $9.99 a month gym membership and another for some 16 week weight loss program. On the back, it looks to list all of the benefits of Work Out World (WOW) over other gyms. It has a day care, great hours, etc. The two that attracted me were the lack of commitment (I assume you only pay monthly rather than all up front) and the free enrollment package with the postcard, which I made sure to bring with me. I can’t understand the excessive charges for enrollments fees anyway. I believe they’re a way to get money out of people up front and keep them paying a monthly fee to make the one time fee seem “worth it.” I mean, how hard is it to put me into their computer? A little note underneath that states that offers cannot be combine. I took this to mean that the cheaper membership and 16 week program could not be used together or with other offers on the web or other fliers.
To be safe, I called the Nashua location to clarify the deal before going in. After being transferred to New Memberships, I told them I was interested in their latest postcard advertisement and wanted to clarify that I could purchase a membership for $9.99 a month and there were no other charges unrelated to addition services (like the steam room it mentions on the back). I was told that that was an offering they had and they would honor any advertisement brought in. I set up an appointment and headed over after work the next day.
When I got there, I was taken to a small cubicle and told what membership options were and how they were affected by the post card I brought in. Obviously if I had gotten the deal as presented on the card, I wouldn’t be writing in so what follows are the different packages they offered me. Option one was a $299 enrollment fee with a $19.99 monthly fee reduced to $9.99 with the card. Option two was a $199 enrollment fee with a $29.99 monthly fee, but with the card, they’d waive the enrollment fee. I told them these deals weren’t what I was looking for and the person explaining this to me said she could get her supervisor. I asked if her supervisor could give me $9.99 a month with no enrollment fees because I wasn’t willing to budge and didn’t want to waste my time or theirs. She said it was within her power so I decided to stay.
The supervisor comes up and tries to chit-chat with me about the gym and how nice it is, etc. I tell her that I want the deal as it appears on the card and she goes through a number of other ‘options’ with me. I tell her politely but firmly that if she can’t offer me $9.99 a month and no fees that I can get a better deal at another gym. She tries to tell me that there I’d never have to wait for a machine and that they have classes and how it’s so much closer to downtown and where I live. I’m a simple guy when it comes to the gym. I run for a bit on a machine and then do some various free weights. I don’t need classes or any services. I’m extremely low maintenance as I can be left to do my thing and leave unnoticed. I tell her that price is my primary concern though the gym, the size, and location are all very nice. I also tell her that I called to clarify the deal the previous day. She tells me she can’t give me the deal and the person on the phone was mistaken as they can’t share enrollment information and pricing over the phone. We shake hands, and I leave.
I’m not writing because I was swindled or treated poorly, though they did insult my intelligence a little bit. I do want this badvertising and my subsequent disappointment to be brought to light though. Please look at the ad and let me know if I’m wrong in my thinking about the deal. Keep in mind that I was told I was correct with the deal over the phone. I can’t find any contact information on their website which is misleading itself as there seems to be another company called Work Out World in NJ which isn’t affiliated with the one in New England. I still would like the $9.99 gym membership but the fees and their run around are a deal breaker for me.
Well, at least this gym had the decency to feed you a bunch of confusing half-truths and terms before you even signed a contract, instead of waiting till you tried to get out of your agreement.