LA Fitness Will Say Anything To Avoid Honoring Free 3 Day Pass

The sales team at the LA Fitness in Floral Park New Hyde Park, Long Island, were so pushy to a prospective customer that they basically forced her to take her business elsewhere. Apparently if they actually let a customer redeem one of their free passes, the gym will be sucked into a vortex of non-commission, so they have to deny you access.

Nazli writes,

I wish I wasn’t writing this because I really wanted to be a happy customer of L.A. Fitness. Here is how it happened.

I live in Floral Park, LI and I am (or rather used to be) a swimmer. I hate doing cardio so the one and only element I look for in a gym is a swimming pool. After a quick search, I realize that the only club capable of offering a pool around my house is L.A. Fitness. So yesterday I printed out my “3 day free pass” and headed out there. I’ve already done my research, I know how much it costs and have accepted it. Needless to say, I am a sales person’s dream.

They make me meet with this young attractive guy and he shows me around. You know, it’s L.A. Fitness. It’s big and has the cutting edge work out equipment and classes and the swimming pool. Not much needs to be said there. He shows me the pool, I like it, it’s fine I want to swim already.

We go back to his desk and he tells me the fees, if I pay slightly more I can have 2 guests all the time, unlimited yada yada. So I’m like, “Listen, I’m sold but I still want to try it for 3 days first. I have to sleep on it before I make a purchase because if I cancel my deposit is gone so I want to make sure this is what I want. Give me the free pass and I’ll be back.”

So he says, “Ok let me go see my manager Neil.” The young guy comes back and tells me his manager is busy but that [his manager] wanted him to tell me if I sign up TODAY they will lower the monthly fee by $10.00, and then he moves on to try to calculate that to show me how much I would save in a year and trails off without being able to add it up. When I decline that, he offers me another deal that is only happening TODAY (it’s gotta be my lucky day, right?) and if I sign up today, my registration fee will be $75 instead of the regular $149.99.

A few minutes later an older guy, Neil, comes and tells me, “So I hear you want the 3 days pass.”

“Yes, and then I will come back and will become a member.”

Neil starts reading the fine print on the coupon and circles 3 places.

“Well, according to this for certain areas we have to charge $20 dollars. Now you can work out for free but if you want swimming classes, squash, work out classes, they are all 20 bucks.”

“I don’t want swimming classes. I know how to swim.”

“Well I meant the swimming pool. Because you know—and you’ll appreciate this when you’re a member—members say, ‘Why is she in here? We pay more than her, she shouldn’t be here with us.’ We also don’t overcrowd our pool with nonmembers…”

He continues like this for a couple of minutes, totally insulting and offending me. I am starting to wonder if I smell bad or something and I am so disgusted that even though his logic is awfully flawed I don’t want to argue with him.

“Alright well, I didn’t bring any money since it says ‘free’ on the pass… so I guess I will have to come back tomorrow and print another pass for tomorrow and try it then.”

“So you’d rather pay 20 bucks extra to try it rather than become a member and put that 20 into becoming a member,” and he starts to draw a comparison chart of some sort.

So I say, “I can do math, the money isn’t the issue here. I just want to try it first before I make a decision. So since I don’t have money on me today, I have to come back tomorrow anyway right? Whether I become a member or just try it out?”

“Well yeah… “

“So I’ll see you tomorrow and I will have made up my mind by then.”

He interjects and asks me if I have an ID. (I do but I lie because I can already tell what’s coming so I tell him it’s in the car) “Well tell you what, if you go get it from the car in the next 10 minutes, I’ll register you as my personal guest and you can use the pool for free today and then we can talk.” And then he starts to totally smile and suck up to me.

Really? Two minutes ago, you were telling the members wouldn’t want me in there because I’m just trying it out, now you’re offering to sign me up as your personal guest, after offending me?

So needless to say, I didn’t get to swim.

You know, I did my homework and knew that they were going to try to screw me, but honestly, I didn’t think it would be this bad. If he had just let me be, I was going to sign up for a platinum membership anyway. Bastards.

What we like about this story: the salesmen kept telling Nazli no without actually using the word “no,” so she did the same thing right back to them.

Comments

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  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Do salesmen realize the times they are overagressive and actually push away a customer who would nomrally have just bought/signed up?

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @AlteredBeast: No, they don’t realize this, because if they weren’t morons they’d be better salesmen. This sort of salesman is trained to clip a certain type of mark and they either get good at that or go sell something else. You pretty much go into this sort of sales experience with the same mindset you need to buy a car… be prepared for the salescritter to be a thieving schmuck, know what you want and what you’re willing to pay, and be pleasantly surprised if/when you do actually come across a decent person in one of these sales roles.

      When I have encountered good sales types, I make a point to take their cards and distribute them to friends/colleagues/family, by the way, so your sales people reading Consumerist can skip the “we’re not all like that” response. ;)

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        @GearheadGeek: I like that card idea! Take it in the begining of the conversation, then at the end mention that the agressive tactics drove you away…and when you discuss your experience online a scan of the card will appear with it.

        My mother was at a car dealer for service. They tried to take her car as a trade in and put her in something both more expensive and in worse shape. Even the mechanic pulled her aside and said she should keep her car. After the salesmen kept discracting her with better and better “deals” I finally said…

        “You can come out here with a Corvette for $200, an amazing deal, but we won’t take it because WE DON’T HAVE THE MONEY.” At that point he gave up.

    • rushevents says:

      @AlteredBeast: Y M C A.

      Easy Peasy. Ours has a great gym, 2 pools and a free (well no additional charge at least) daycare.

      Oh and they cost less than 24 hour fitness just 2 miles away.

      Whatadeal!

      When we needed to cancel they didn’t hassle and we didn’t have to wait for any contracts because it’s a month to month basis anyway.

      • Wombatish says:

        @rushevents: The Y by my old house was dirty, cramped, small and mismanaged. But yes, a lot of Y.M.C.A.s are very nice facilities, and they have some fantastic specials for memberships.

        The only reason I usually choose 24 hour fitness over anyone else is because I like to go exercise late at night, when there are less people around. Most of the gyms I’ve been to that are branded under them were reasonably nice, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out by always picking them. Then I moved and found out that my local 24 hour fitness was…. not 24 hours. D’oh.

        Luckily I found an industrious little local gym that had stepped up to fill the void and switched to a 24 hour format, except every other week they’re closed on Sundays. It works, and they’re very nice and personal.

  2. knightracer says:

    I think this is pretty common practice at most gyms. I had a similar experience at Bally’s and that’s how I ended up signing up for L.A. Fitness instead.

    • Adrienne Willis says:

      @knightracer: you saved yourself a huge headache but not signing up with Bally’s!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        @Adrienne Willis:
        Some of us are lucky enough to have an employee discount plan that includes a pre-determined Bally’s membership package. No need to talk to any sales people, and now way to upsell the product.

    • ltlbbynthn says:

      @knightracer: My mom gets gym memberships with her health insurance, and we went to sign up at 24-hour fitness. The guy asked us if we knew how to work out, which my mom gets a lot because she is overweight, but she is an athlete and very knowledgeable about training. When we answered yes he acted surprised, and we noticed all the employees talking very loudly about how everyone *needs* personal training sessions and making fun of people who don’t buy them. He kept offering us deals and packages for personal training, “only available today”, which I was interested in purchasing later on actually.
      We went through with the sign up, but the whole experience was so unpleasant neither of us visited the gym at ALL.

  3. winshape says:

    Did any gyms make it to the Worst Company in America? I’ve been a member of at least three different ones (Bally, LA, and Gold’s) thinking each time that the experience was a fluke.

    I know, read the fine print before signing, but their sales tactics and customer retention tactics have turned me off of gyms for life. If the process were easier, then maybe I would have come back at some point in the future.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      @winshape: Many moons ago, I worked as a market research pollster (Basically a telemarketer who doesn’t sell anything, but does surveys over the phone) One client was a major gym. And the intro script we read stated in effect that we wanted their honest opinion about the club and its service.

      That was a lie, all we were really inquiring about was how effective a sales pitch they received at their place of employment was. But believe me, we received LOTS of unsolicited opinions about the club, and none of it was flattering. Mostly the deplorable sanitation within the locker rooms (mold, etc.) From the stories, I decided Id never sign up for a gym membership. I could always workout at home, or jog around the neighborhood. or such.

    • kjherron says:

      @winshape: One of the companies in Worst Company in America was Peanut Corp, who deliberately sold salmonella-laced peanut butter to the public. And even that wasn’t evil enough to win.

      Ripoff fitness chains just aren’t in the same league.

      • ktetch says:

        @kjherron: yeah, but if you choose to eat that foul paste, you deserve everything you get… (a JOKE! but really, peanut butter is just foul)

  4. pupu says:

    HEH – when I get some free time I’m going to go check this place out just to yank them.

  5. duncanblackthorne says:

    This has been my experience with most “health clubs”. I’m glad I signed up at Fitness 19. They may be somewhat minimalistic, but they don’t use hard sell and intimidation tactics on you either.

  6. mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

    She lives just outside NYC proper yet this is the only pool she can find? Nazli, perhaps this might be helpful? [www.ymca.net]

    • Adrienne Willis says:

      @mianne: The problem I find with YMCA’s (at least in NYC) is that they are REALLY expensive. I am much happy to pay $59 a month for NYSC (I joined in Philly so my rate is cheaper) and be able to use all their clubs than pay hundreds of dollars for a few months and only have access to one location.

      • dialing_wand says:

        @Adrienne Willis: YMCA’s are very expensive here in Montreal (can’t speak for anywhere else though) too. It’s because, at least here, they are one of the few places (gyms) with (good) pools. But year $110/month for a couples membership was crazy.

        Nothing regular long-distance cycling and push-ups can’t fix!

        • dialing_wand says:

          @dialing_wand: Ok… too tired. What I should have said there was: but the $110/month couples membership was crazy and we certainly didn’t get $330 of value out of it.

          I should add, that the amount of value is proportional to the effort put in; so if we swam every day it would have been worth it but it’s often that much harder when the pool is shared between various events throughout the day.

          Not to mention how much I dislike sharing lanes. I’m cool if I only have a limited amount of time, but I don’t want to worry about bumping into Mrs. Young-and-super-fast-and-fit, or Mr.Crawling-along-mindlessly. No offence to you both by the way.

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        @Adrienne Willis: Seriously! The fees for the YMCA where I live would run us between $250.00 and $140.00 with monthly fees as much as $98.75 for just me and my husband, depending on whether we signed up as a family (the $250) or individuals. We decided to pass, however useful an organization they might be.

  7. katstermonster says:

    The same thing happened to me and my friend! Well, almost. She had a weeklong pass for two people and they gave a whole sales pitch and then asked what credit card she’d like to put the membership on. We were VERY clear about wanting to try the pass first, but they persisted to the point of annoyance. We ended up working out that day and never coming back.

  8. Nate Hixson says:

    This is why I like YMCAs. I don’t know if there are any where you live, but the fees are month to month, are usually very reasonable, and almost all of them have pools.

    • Kd McEntire says:

      @Nate Hixson: You must live near some magical fairyland where either the regular gyms cost an arm and a leg or your YMCA operates at a loss. (~_^) Every YMCA I’ve ever priced has been more expensive than the local gyms. Maybe you’re just lucky? (And if so, where the heck do you live? Cuz sign me up!)

    • emt888 says:

      @Nate Hixson: Every YMCA near me charges at least as much as the local gyms, and they don’t have nearly as nice facilities. Almost every time I go to check out the Y, there are lines for machines and the machines look like they are from the 1980’s.

      Also, the gyms near me are open until at least 2am. As both a student who pulls frequent all-nighters and someone who works a part-time second shift job, the hours appeal to me at gyms. The local Y’s close at 9pm.

      • Snakeophelia says:

        @emt888: Really? The full membership – $56 for two people – at my local Y gives us full privileges, including classes and the pools – at two nearby Y’s, plus access to the nearby high school pool. No hard sale, no contracts, and while the facilities are old, the pools and the workout equipment are not. And at least in the summer, both Y’s we use are open until 11 pm. Are gyms really much cheaper than that?

        • BlondeGrlz says:

          @Snakeophelia: I thought my Y was a steal at $43 a month for access to everything – the pool, dozens of classes, super new equipment – until they suddenly went out of business after 120+ years and now I have no gym. “Operating at a loss” is an understatement for their $1 million in debt. I actually envy the people who pay more but still have their Y’s.

        • bibliophibian says:

          @Snakeophelia: The Y where I live is about $15 a month more than most gyms I’ve looked into (and $30-35 more than some of the popular gyms). I joined once while my son was attending a summer program, thinking I’d get some exercise while he was doing his camp thing. Except that anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3ds of the machines were broken or roped off for other mysterious reasons; there were lines out the wazoo for everything even though I tried going at several different times of day; the pool was almost always being reserved for this swimming class or that summer-program group or the other private party. There were no trainers or staff that I ever saw to assist with any problems with the machines, and there were problems aplenty.

          I got to talking with one of the other ladies, and mentioned that I was thinking of trying a different location – she said, “Don’t bother, I’ve been to every location except on the very far east side of town, and they’re all the same.”

          I’m sure that’s not the case for *all* their facilities, but for some people, yeah, a private gym/club is going to be their best option.

      • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

        @emt888: My Y is 44 bucks a month. It’s a little more than the “gyms” around, but the Y:
        1. Has a pool (at both that I can go to)
        2. Has newer equipment, and lots of it (again at both)
        3. They are both newer facilities as well.

        Another thing I like about the Y is most of the members are like me, they are there to work out, not to ‘be seen working out.’

    • Deleriumb32 says:

      @Nate Hixson: The YMCAs here in Atlanta are really expensive. I’m a student, but even that didn’t matter. Because of my age, they said I’d have to pay $58/month. It was hard for me to choose that when LA Fitness was just $21/month and had a lower joining fee.

  9. ssaoi says:

    They wouldn’t do if it didn’t work. And sadly it works. Most businesses would rather have the 10 chumps vs 1 or 2 educated consumers.

  10. Moosehawk says:

    My girlfriend used to work for The Mobile Solution, the bane of all pushy commission stores. She absolutely hated it. They would actually refuse her a lunch break if she hadn’t sold anything by that time.

    Anyway, she found that no matter how aggressive she was, there are few people out there that would be pressured into impulse-buying into a 2-year contract. Being over-aggressive would usually just make customers that knew what they wanted cranky and even sometimes take their business to a corporate T-mobile store.

    The manager of that TMS sold a unaccompanied mentally-handicapped young adult a contract and 2 phones for some unreal amount of money. The next day, the person’s mentor/advisor came in and had to demand that they refund him his money. The manager never thought what he did was wrong.

    • GMFish says:

      @Moosehawk: “The manager never thought what he did was wrong.

      Apparently, greed can be very liberating.

      • katstermonster says:

        @GMFish: Ignorance is bliss!

      • MostlyHarmless says:

        @GMFish: That indeed is a problem with greedy folks. They have no moral compass that tells them this is wrong. In their minds, they are completely justified and absolutely convinced that what they are doing is perfectly okay.

        The kinds I love the most are those who are constantly judging others, but then do the same things themselves, and do not see anything with them doing it, but heavens forbid if someone else does it.

        • Moosehawk says:

          @MostlyHarmless: I think most people do that with driving. e.g. friends telling friends not to text and drive, yet I’ll catch them doing it “Well it’s really short!” or “It’s important!”

          • MostlyHarmless says:

            @Moosehawk: Thats more like run of the mill hypocrisy.. everyone does that :P

          • MosesKabob says:

            @Moosehawk: Only marginally related, back when my daughter would go to daycare, parents would park in the “No Parking/Fire Lane” zone in front of the doors. Their excuse? “I’m just here to pick up/drop off my kid!” Well durr, that’s why we’re all here! Not like I’m going to hang out for an hour until they break out the Cheerios and Dixie cups of OJ.

            Entitlement. They has it.

            • dragonfire81 says:

              @MosesKabob: Those stories and the story today about the cemetery workers reselling graves are proof positive to me of the insane lengths people will go to make money.

              Morals, ethics, integrity, who the fuck cares about that when there is money to be made?

  11. donovanr says:

    I smell a business opportunity: A gym that doesn’t treat you like a mark!

  12. GMFish says:

    Find a local gym, not a chain gym. The chains profit from people not exercising. I.e., by signing up as many people through high pressure sales techniques in hopes they’ll pay and never show up. Ask yourself this: Would you choose to go to a restaurant that profits from people not eating there?

    Talk to people locally who are serious about working out and find out where they go.

    As for a pool, most municipalities have rec centers with pools that can be used cheaply.

    • Kd McEntire says:

      @GMFish: Exactly! I live in Mountain View, CA and I LOVE Overtime Fitness. They don’t have a pool or anything but the trainers don’t get paid on commission. There’s always two trainers out on the floor who help anyone who needs them, period. Two weeks free to try it out before you sign up and they let you put your membership on hold so you’re not paying a monthly fee for the gym if you have to be out of town or if you’re sick. You just don’t get that kind of service with a regular gym. (But i do wish they had a pool. The rock wall is cool and all but I don’t like heights. I’d much prefer to splash around. ^_^)

      • GMFish says:

        @Kd McEntire: My awesome local gym is called The Rock. The women who work-out there do not apply make up before showing up! They’re actually there to work out. Shocking, I know.

        And of course there’s no high pressure sales techniques.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      @GMFish:

      Pretty much every gym works on that business model. If everybody who signed up for a gym showed up regularly, then the fees would have to be astronomically high.

    • Drew5764 says:

      @GMFish: While you might not think you’re doing it, don’t blame the OP because she happens to live near the NYC/Nassau border.

      There aren’t many options for gyms with pools (LA Fitness being the ONLY one nearby), and I don’t know of a “rec center” around that has a pool you can use at all. Never mind “cheaply”.

  13. citking says:

    Gym memberships are so outrageously overpriced. I’d pay no more than $10. It’s not like equipment and salaries are so high they have to make you pay $50/mo plus other fees.

    A good pair of running shoes or a community pool are all I need.

    • Saboth says:

      @citking:

      Although they don’t have much overhead, they do have to pay pretty high insurance (esp for a pool), and the equipment needs pretty regular maintenance…but yeah, I think people would be interested in a more basic gym that didn’t have 15 million in cutting edge equipment for maybe $15 a month.

    • katstermonster says:

      @citking: This is why I <3 Cardio Express here in CT. The branches near me are usually VERY crowded during peak hours (but what gym isn’t?) but the upkeep is good, I’ve never been pressured, and I pay 10 bucks a month to have access to a single location, including unlimited classes. 20 bucks for unlimited locations and a few more perks.

      • drjayphd says:

        @katstermonster: …unless the owner of the franchises near you decides they aren’t really attached. I could only use my Cardio Express membership at three certain locations, which were at least the three closest. Now they’re Club 24, I think. All ownership-related reasons.

    • XTC46 says:

      @citking: But not everyone is like you. I happily pay my $35/mo membership fee at 24 hour fitness for the following reasons:

      1. I work long hours and am manic, so there are nights where i just cant sleep no matter what, so I sometimes go to the gym to relax (working out relaxes me at times)

      2. I hurt my knee playing football in high school and doing various other activities afterwards, so running on pavement hurts, its much better for me to work out on an eleptical machine, and the gym has that.

      3. I enjoy lifting weights. I enjoy lifting weights alone. Machines allow me to lift weights alone if i choose to.

      4. physically going somewhere else to work out allows me to concentrate on working out. I cant see something on TV and get distracted, I cant work out for 10 minutes then say “oh I want to check something online really quick”

      5. I live an apartment that is not big enough for a decent weight set/equipment

      6. I like having a large workout area

      7. They have a raquet ball and basket ball court, my house does not.

      I do use the pool at my building as well as go to the beach, but I cant compare with what the gym has, and it makes me happy when I get to work out there. So while a pool and some shoes are all you need, not everyone is you.

  14. Saboth says:

    Maybe totally unrelated, but is the OP a minority of any type? Because that sure is the vibe I am getting. “Well, the members might not want you in the pool.”

    Anyone else flashing back to when Stewie tries to join the gym in Family guy? “Lucky for you, we are running a special for the next 17 minutes.” “Forget the down, are you watching? Forget the $45, let’s do $30 a month” “Trace, can you bring me some of those free gym bags?”

  15. mrgenius says:

    Reminds me of when I signed up for the gym and asked them to send me a copy of the signed contract to me. They said “you have a copy.” I said, “but this is the blank copy of the contract; I want the one with YOUR signature on it.” They looked at me like I had two heads or was asking something crazy. But, to their credit, they did it.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Sorry in advance for the length of this rant but its a shoot off of the origanl post. I recently (May) signed up to join LA fitness and had a somewhat parralel experience to this. And coincidentally enough, it was the Lake Success gym (15 minutes from the one mentioned in the post). I went in, expecting a free trial. Even with my coupon, I had to take a tour and sit down with a sales rep before I could do anything. The charts mentioned by Nazli must be ingrained into these guys by corprate, because I got the same exact BS approach and the same exact “TODAY ONLY!” pathetic attempts. Despite being totally pissed off, I ended up joining, but only because I was promised that I had a 3 day, no strings attached, ability to cancel my membership without losing any of my money (plus I charged it, with the foresight of a possible charge back scenario). Day one, I get hassled non stop to try personal training sessions. I say no thank you. Day two, i get phone calls at home asking me to try a training session. I tell the guy on the phone I already said no thank you the previous day. Day three, I’m at the gym and am practically ignored by every staff member there. Get home, and find a voicemail about free personal training. Call up the gym, cancel my membership, and never looked back.

  17. satoru says:

    I think gyms need to rethink their strategy. They should really begin to operate like modern casinos. In the old days casinos just wanted you to bring your money, spend it all as fast as possible, then would throw you out. Modern casinos are all about giving you PERCEIVED value and winnings all the while sucking every penny out of you. The key difference is that you do this willingly, and thus you feel that your experience is positive, when the net effect is that you have no money at the end of the day. They need your repeat business. Sure they could rig all the machines to pay out 0.01% and suck you out of all your money in 1 hour. But then you’d never go back. It’s more profitable to give you a 5% chance of winning, have you spend 8 hours there to lose your money, but you perceive that you had a ‘good’ day and thus will return. They need to turn away from selling memberships, to selling service.

    • Shoelace says:

      @satoru: Or perceived service.

      I’ll stay around most places much longer if the sales/wait staff is attentive to me and does their job but doesn’t push or hover. I consider part of good service to be knowing when to leave a person alone.

    • anduin says:

      @ncboxer:
      correct, it is Egyptian :)

  18. MostlyHarmless says:

    I thought Nazli was a guy at first. What language is that name in?

  19. hills says:

    Our LA Fitness is nice & new – I joined, but just didn’t go enough. Yes, canceling required mailing info in which was annoying, but they did stop charging my dues – only yesterday did I realize that I paid my last month’s dues when I signed up and so now I’m trying to get a refund…. just a head’s up to anyone else who cancels to check and see if they paid first&last dues upon initiation.

    • italianscallion33 says:

      @hillsrovey: Also a heads up to anyone who wants to cancel with them, you need to have your form to headquarters 20 days before your next billing date, otherwise you’ll be billed again. That happened to me and no matter how much I whined they wouldn’t reverse it. In the contract, I’m sure, but sleazy and unnecessary all the same. You can’t call and cancel, or go to your gym and cancel.

  20. frank64 says:

    How can Planet Fitness do it for less than $15 a month and no sleazy contracts or hard sell? Every other place is $40-$60 with the requisite hard sell sleaze and contracts. (I know PF doesn’t have pools or fitness classes)

    Goes to show you what the other chains gyms are after.

    • Anonymous says:

      @frank64:
      Planet Fitness was recently running a deal that was $199 for 2 years. And since my employer was offering a $150 fitness reimbursement, I went to check it out.

      I waited for about 10 minutes, and a girl came out to show me around the gym. She then explained the 2-yr cheapo deal, and the fancy membership (which was still only like $20 a month). I said I’d be interested in the cheapo deal, and she didn’t try to upsell me, just cheerfully gave me what I asked for, along with a free t-shirt.

      Of course that was over a month ago and I still haven’t stepped foot in the place, but for $25 a year, I’m not wracked with guilt just yet. Anyway, I was just agreeing that for those who just want a reasonably-priced gym membership without being put through the wringer, Planet Fitness is a good option.

    • schernoff says:

      @frank64: I love Planet Fitness. $20/month gives me unlimited visits to other clubs, unlimited guests, and they’re open 24 hours M-F. Wow, a gym that works with my schedule. Wish they had classes, but I’m saving $100/month by not belonging to the gym that does. But they do have regularly scheduled hours with a trainer.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I got sucked into the promises by LA Fitness several years ago and joined up when they also gave me the run around on their 3 day free pass. I buckled under the high pressure sales pitch. After joining, I was hassled non-stop to sign up for their extremely overpriced and uneducated personal training program. I finally left in disgust and joined a local Gold’s Gym run by the same family for two generations. It’s not as pretty as LA Fitness and it doesn’t have a pool, but I really like the management. They know my face and say hi to me all the time. I have an awesome personal trainer at less than half the cost of the LA Fitness wannabees. I’ll never set foot in an LA Fitness again and I warn everyone I know to not even try them.

  22. Anonymous says:

    There’s a gym in Burbank called Burbank Athletic Club; they were advertising 1/2 off. I was ready to sign up for the Y, but I went in to take a look. Salesman greets me, and I say I’d like a tour.

    He says no problem, but you’ll have to sign this waiver. He gives me an index card with some smeared ink on it. I ask for a readable copy, to which he replies “it’s not like you’re signing away your soul.” I tell him that I’m not signing something I can’t read, at which point he gets physically aggressive and practically chases me out.

  23. mergatroy6 says:

    The LA Fitness referenced in this article is in New Hyde Park, not Floral Park. In fact Nazli never says the gym is in Floral Park, just that she lives there.

    Please do some research Consumerist. All you needed to do was visit the LA Fitness website.

    The posts have been more plentiful but the quality hasn’t been the same.

  24. henrygates says:

    This is why I am not a member of a gym. I have been at in the past, to 3 different ones, but they are ALL scummy ripoffs. It seems to be industry standard. You can’t just walk into a gym, grab a chart with membership and prices, sign up, and start working out. It’s a complex web of lies, upsells, and deals.

    The whole industry is corrupt, so I will never use it again.

    I don’t know why they can’t have an honest, straight forward system. Maybe its because all the sport jerks in high school are now working at gyms?

  25. Anthony Locascio says:

    LA Fitness is absolutely abominable, just the worst. I worked out there for two years. The personal trainers are “independent contractors”, meaning they aren’t actually working for the club, they just have permission to court new business inside. This means that they will pounce on you virtually every time you go in, trying to give you a “free” session, which is really just a sales pitch. To be fair, the session was actually very good and gave me a good workout, but I come to the gym to get rid of stress, not worry about how I’m going to dodge a guy trying to sell me.

    Also, LA Fitness has a “policy” where they don’t let you cancel for 60 days. You want to quit? Pay 2 months more on your policy and they will be glad to. The rep who called me for payment didn’t understand my logic: “I don’t go there anymore. Why would I pay you?”

  26. hills says:

    The bad news about LA Fitness just keeps on coming – from today’s local paper…

    LA Fitness worker sues saying complaints about sex messages caused her firing

    [www.oregonlive.com]

  27. littlemisslondon says:

    My “gym” = running shoes, good-quality treadmill (for the winter), local bike/run paths (for the spring/summer/autumn), some free weights, and my Pilates DVDs. I’m in as good shape now as I ever was when I was a gym member, and I can use my own shower and not get athlete’s foot!

  28. Ben Brennan says:

    This happened to me with Bally’s. They offered me a rather large discount on a month to month membership just to get me to not use the free trial.

  29. npage148 says:

    Check out a University. A lot of them have public memberships. The University at Buffalo has a yearly public membership for 200$/year that includes use of a Olympic sized pool and other high end niceties.

  30. MightyCow says:

    Most gyms don’t want serious fitness types, because those people actually use the gym. They want people who are signing up because they feel guilty and don’t really want to, so they’ll never actually come and work out. They get all the money, and they don’t have to provide the service.

    These annoying sales techniques actually weed out the serious people, who they don’t want anyway, and make it easier for them to sign up people who don’t want to come at all.

  31. rolla says:

    well, that story changed my mind to join LA Fitness

  32. Vanessa Hofmann says:

    The did the same thing to my friend and I, gosh, I am so glad to hear that we weren’t the only ones!
    The Gym, a Great Place for a Mental Workout? LA Fitness Dim…. Someone suggested that we should have said “I think it’s great that they let you work here, even though you’re obviously carrying a few extra pounds.” Priceless!

  33. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been a member of the local Y for 30 years. The rate is reasonable, in my opinion, some of my money goes back to the community through free programs, they upgrade facilities regularly (usually new stuff after each year’s annual maintenance shutdown), there are 4 in the area if I want something different. Various classes, exercise groups, included in the membership.

    When traveling most Y’s will allow use of their facilities also for no fee.

    No contract, no high pressure sales. What’s not to like?

  34. cukymnstr says:

    I have a membership at 24 Hour for $15/month. Got it in 1994 while my husband was signing up for the regular membership. All locations all facilities. I think I was the “promotional” membership person like car dealerships have the one “promotional” car a month. Oh, it’s separate from my now ex-husbands membership.

  35. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @katstermonster: I’m afraid I’ll have to charge you a gullible fee of $17.50 now :P

  36. Anonymous says:

    I got the same run around from LA Fitness in my area. Best advice is to know exactly how much your willing to pay for the membership before you go in. During the hard sell just keep telling them that you’ll become a member if they meet your criteria for joining. i.e. monthly fees, initiation fees etc. Since the economy is so bad they are VERY eager for new members so you’ll more than likely need to come back more than once to get your “demands” met, but sooner rather than later they’ll say OK and your in.

  37. chuckdaddy says:

    i went to check out the exact same gym as Nazli and they tried the same sleazeball sales pitch. the facility is nice, but the account managers are douches

  38. Kimberly Gist-Collins says:

    Hard sells cause me to run the other way. The more someone pushes me and bugs me, the more likely I’ll walk out and never buy from that establishment.

    Honestly, I would pay more for something where the seller wasn’t a pushy skeez. I just won’t work with places or people who do the hard sell.

  39. Doctor Rockso! says:

    This is par for the course at gyms. The “customer reps” there are worse than used car salesmen. It’s also the same way if you ever go to a McDojo to learn a martial art like taekwondo or kung fu, except there they lay the guilt trip on you that your kid will grow up to be an undisciplined lazy drug addict due to bullying if you don’t sign them up immediately.

  40. elaineous says:

    I think most gyms think the best way to sell memberships is through shady salesmanship.

    For me, Ballys wouldn’t honor their 3 days pass, and what’s worse, lied about what was in the contract they presented to me. (I read everything I sign, and suggest anyone signing up for a gym do the same.)

    I left and joined Gold’s gym, which did not try to pull anything when signing up.

    From what I’ve heard, most people with gym memberships were tricked in some way when they signed up.

  41. Barry Gilpin says:

    I guess I’m lucky. I use a local gym and it was no muss, no fuss to set everything up. Stay away from the chains.

  42. anduin says:

    luckily my famil has been a part of a private sports club for years which 1. keeps the riff raff out 2. costs a little bit more 3. provides a nice atmosphere to workout, play tennis, squash, badminton, hockey etc and clean showers. Ive been to these “public gyms” and theyre filthy compared to the place I go, its just a smell that insane

  43. Magpie724 says:

    ughhhh! I HATE LA FITNESS!!!! I interviewed there for a job and they told me that they don’t normally hire women because they tend to cry when a manager yells at them…Do they teach the sales people there to be complete douchebags? or do they just hire naturally douchy people

  44. clickable says:

    My gym-shopping experience was an exception, maybe because I’m a little older than the typical demographic (female, just hit 50). I went around several places last year and only two of them used that typical hard sell where they were clearly oblivious of how I was jangling my car keys in my rush to get the hell out. The other two or three places were very low-key on the sales pitch, and more important, were very gracious about the “free sample,” whether it was one day or a three-day pass. They definitely made the financial scheme sound confusing on purpose, but they also were very much in favor of my coming in to try “all the facilities” before I made any decision. Maybe they do different sales techniques with different customers, but it was definitely the right kind of marketing technique with me (and would have been with Nazli, too).

    This was in Brooklyn, which would seem to be the epicenter of hard sell country. Maybe at least some of the gyms realize that the customers are just as adept at sniffing out and avoiding bullshit as salesmen are at dishing it out, so they just skip it for everyone’s convenience.

  45. Anonymous says:

    I also had a bad experience at LA Fitness. In short, they tricked me and some other Interns into thinking we were getting a “deal monthly price without contract” when really, it was just the price they normally charge. And then they failed to tell me that it would continue to charge monthly. When I found out they were going to charge me for a month of membership when I wouldn’t even be living in the area, I asked how to cancel it, and at the front desk, they assured me I would be free from a monthly charge. What I didn’t know is that was a lie. I still got charged. Even their 1-800 customer service number was less than helpful. And of course, the guy that sold me the membership explained “Well, that money already went in to my paycheck, we can’t refund it now.” Who says that to a customer?
    Needless to say that I am sick of LA Fitness and obviously made a huge mistake. They seemed shady to begin with, and they just happened to prove it to me. I’m glad I am not the only one that got a terrible experience with this gym.

  46. italianscallion33 says:

    They pulled the saaaaame crap with me. I brought in the 3-day pass and as soon as they showed me around they sold me a plan. I didn’t mind too much because I’d already shopped around for rates and knew I wanted to go there (very close to home) but they ignored the pass. They also did the “if you don’t take this deal now, it might be gone next week” because I had explained I wouldn’t have the money till the next week. After some time sitting there they agreed to hold the “special rate” for one week for me.

    They also had a sign that said free access to personal trainers, so I asked if that was really true (too good to be true, right?). They told me it WAS true, that I could get a personal trainer for no extra fee. Well, it turns out they meant one trial session that lasted about 20 minutes. Then the trainer tried to sell me his services, which were way too expensive for a lowly graduate student like me. He kept me there for about a half hour trying to explain the rates to me, despite me telling him repeatedly that I could not afford it. He even went as far as to say that if my parents cared about me, they would help me out to pay for a trainer. Yes, he actually said that. I told him my parents could not afford it either and he told me I should still ask them.

    I asked them, knowing the answer. The best rate per session is if you go like 4x a week, which totals to a bazillion dollars, as with any trainer. Going only once a week was like $60 a session. He was extremely pushy even though I told him I couldn’t afford it. I avoided him at the gym for the next few weeks and finally he caught my eye and asked if I had thought about it, and I told him I couldn’t do it. He finally left me alone.

    Their salespeople are sleazy. Their fees are a jip, too. I should’ve read my contract closer to realize that to free my account for at least 3 months (that is, not go to the gym for those 3 months) I had to pay a $25 processing fee. So I would pay almost a month’s payment NOT to go to the gym, which is ridiculous. I wrote them a complaint letter explaining all the crap they had put me through and they finally said they’d freeze my account for free. Better than nothing, I guess. I have 1 more month to decide whether I wanna continue paying them $35/mo when I don’t like their business practices. Might be worth it to go to a little further away.

  47. Anonymous says:

    LA Fitness is great. Maybe it’s youz New York salesmen. My one day pass experience was fine, I listened to the pitch, didn’t join right then, worked out, used the pool anyway, then came back to the same guy (they do work on commission) and joined. I have belonged to a lot of gyms since 1980 and it by far the best. They are open late every day, have a ton of equipment, nice pools, are clean enough and inexpensive. Wait for a special on the initiation if you don’t want to negotiate. You can go to any LA Fitness in the country for no extra charge, I have done this on vacation and when working out of town. I have even gone to other local locations when on the other side of town. I hate to be unkind, but if you really want to use the pool, not joining because you won’t calmly and firmly stand up to a salesman is a poor reflection on you. Why couldn’t you deal with the situation? Why are you taking it personally? You should go back and do it again with different salespeople so you get what you want.

  48. TheTucuxi says:

    Christ. I was completely tricked and lied to when I joined the LA Fitness facility in Bonita Springs, FL. In addition to permanently attaching their hands to my wallet, I suffered pretty serious sexual harassment from two of the trainers on a regular basis. It was NOT flattering and completely UNWANTED attention. It made me afraid to work out.

    I now live in Orlando and joined the YMCA Aquatic Center. Much better. Not only didn’t they hassle me, I got 1/2 off the monthly rate because of my low income. Screw LA Fitness.