24-Hour Fitness Would Rather Lose 2 Members Than Let You Use Your Free Pass

Thanks to a policy-lovin’ member-hatin’ front-desk bizzatch, 24-Hour Fitness is losing two annual members. But hey, at least they didn’t get scammed by someone trying to redeem a 7-day pass, right?

Anthony writes: “In February of 2010 I joined your club at [redacted] CA. I quickly realized at that time I could not afford it, so I canceled the membership. Seeing that I never went to the club, they refunded all of my money.

Fast forward to this month. I moved in with my girlfriend who lives down the street from this club. She has been a member for many years. I am considering all the clubs in the area, she likes your club and wanted me to see if I like it. I printed a 7-day pass and arrived at the club with her last night. I was greeted by a member of your team who was very helpful and courteous. He told me to come by after the workout to get my passes for the rest of the week. I really enjoyed the club and told my girlfriend after our workout that when I get paid Wednesday I would sign up. I went downstairs to get my passes. The man who initially helped me wasn’t around and that is when things went downhill.

I was greeted by [redacted]. I told her that I was there to get the remainder of my passes. She asked for ID and found my paperwork. My ID is a Michigan ID as I have not yet gotten my California ID. She became confrontational and said I don’t get any passes because it’s for local members only. I said I would bring in a bill reflecting that I live up the street tomorrow. She said this is fine. I found this to be a little odd and I stated that when I joined 4 months ago, no one cared about my ID when I was paying money. She then got upset and stated I can’t have passes because I had been a member.

I explained to her that I joined, never worked out, not once and cancelled. She said this doesn’t matter, you should not have even worked out today. While I realize that are policies in place, is this really how you make someone feel that you want to join your club? I felt as if she was doing everything possible to make me feel unwelcome, and in a way a thief for even being there.

Suffice to say I was quite shocked at this behavior. Not only has her actions cost my membership, but my girlfriend is now going to cancel hers as well, a member for over 3 years. So I ask, was it really worth it for [redacted] to go off on me for technicalities? Or maybe could she have sat me down and discussed it whereas I would have told her I was planning on joining Wednesday. Both of us were looking forward to visiting your club tonight, instead we will be visiting another club in the area to see if we like it. Maybe with a pass at that club, we will feel a little more welcome.”

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Comments

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  1. opticnrv says:

    You simply encountered the gym nazi:

    “NO gym for you!”

  2. dolemite says:

    OOhh…stealing workouts. There’s a special place in hell for people that do that!

    Seriously…this is a case of some person having a tiny bit of authority, and losing sight of the big picture because someone isn’t “following the rules.” It’s what separates the good managers from the people that want to manage, but never will.

  3. Skellbasher says:

    The play a little devil’s advocate, if the chain has a policy that former members are not to receive free passes, then the guy shouldn’t have gotten free passes.

    Maybe it wasn’t the OP’s fault that there was confusion over the rules, and maybe the employee didn’t handle it the greatest way, but this doesn’t seem like such an egregious thing to get all butthurt over.

    A REALLY club would have reactivated your old membership and started charging you for it again without your consent. :)

    • opticnrv says:

      ButtHurt – An inappropriately strong negative emotional response from a perceived personal insult. Characterized by strong feelings of shame. Frequently associated with a cessation of communication and overt hostility towards the “aggressor.”

      The OP and his girlfriend took their business elsewhere and reported the incident to a consumer website. Do you claim those actions are ‘inappropriately strong’?

      • Skellbasher says:

        I do.

        This is not a case of the gym employee violating a policy, or otherwise harming a consumer. This is a case of a person who feels they were treated poorly by a member of the staff, and decided to take their business elsewhere. This type of thing happens every day.

        If I’m in that situation, I simply think ‘Wow, she was a bitch’, and move on. I’ll probably take my business elsewhere too. However, I wouldn’t run home and write a letter to someone that ‘so and so was mean to me’.

        I would hope that The Consumerist was more about actual consumer problems, and not just a repo for people to whine about rude employees.

        • Bye says:

          You are really far off-base. Rude employees are consumer problems.

        • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

          So you’ll take your business elsewhere but won’t tell anyone, not even the company itself, of the reasons why you’re unhappy, and the impact it may have on their bottom line?

          That doesn’t help anybody. The gym might see declining membership rates, but without knowing why, they cannot easily know how to resolve the issue. They could do an advertising blitz, lower enrollment fees, and purchase new machines trying to stay ahead of the pack, but if lousy customer service remained the root of the problem, then the money spent elsewhere would have been largely wasted.

          Likewise, other readers can see a complaint at consumerist, yelp, or other site, and have more information before entering into a long-term contract with a company. People are smart, and can decide for themselves whether a complaint is valid, or if the complainant was being unreasonable.

          Would I automatically exclude 24-Hour Fitness as an option if I was looking for a gym because of this article? No. It might give me pause if I happened to live in [redacted[, CA. I’d prefer not to have to deal with anyone with a Napoleon complex, but it has yet to be seen if this is one bad apple at one location or endemic of the company as a whole.

          • Skellbasher says:

            I don’t agree that it’s the responsibility of the consumer to tell a business that they’re screwing up. If the business model is predicated on customers telling you what is wrong, and not figuring it out for yourself, the business is doomed. Businesses should look their customers for feedback, but their customers shouldn’t be the first signal that something is wrong.

            My job as a consumer is not to help anybody. My job is to exchange my money for goods or services in a way that satisfies me. If I’m not satisfied, I take my money elsewhere to where I am satisfied.

            I’m not saying that the OP shouldn’t have talked to the manager. Not saying that they shouldn’t have written a letter to the store about it. (Although I wasn’t really clear on that point.)

            I just don’t think that this is an issue that is worth exposure on The Consumerist.

        • RevancheRM says:

          As a business manager, you wouldn’t follow that old maxim, “For every one person who complains, nine don’t”?

          It seems to me he did the club manager a solid: he identified a problem on their staff that was costing the business money.

        • TheGhostshark says:

          You realize he wrote the letter to the gym, right? And that Consumerist just reprinted it?

          So in your world, when you’re wronged, you just don’t tell anyone, so nobody ever has a chance to fix it?

        • davidc says:

          “I’ll probably take my business elsewhere too. However, I wouldn’t run home and write a letter”

          Hey, it’s that time of the year again, mind coming by my office so I can sheer you?

          Seriously … why are you even reading a site like this if you don’t plan to actually contribute good or bad stories? Granted, the bad stories are far more pervasive, but knowing what your getting into before hand is a good thing. You might want to think about posting your good / bad experiences in the future … or you can go on being a leech on the interwebz society and take take take and never give back.

          • Skellbasher says:

            I’m a leech? Really? Because I don’t feel that this particular story is worth of a consumer issues website?

            Get over yourself my friend.

            People run across rude employees EVERY DAY in many businesses. it’s an unfortunate fact of life, but it’s there. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t speak up to a manager if they so choose. I personally wouldn’t bother for something like this, but that’s just me. Maybe I have a higher tolerance for bullshit than most, I dunno. I wouldn’t begrudge someone if they choose to complain the the manager. That’s their prerogative.

            I’m saying that I don’t feel this situation is a worthy story on this website. This is no different than a story about walking into a McDonalds, getting lip from the cashier, and deciding that you’re no longer going to patronize that McDonalds. What consumer related issue does this story tell us? “If you’re treated rudely, don’t shop there.” Shouldn’t need a website to figure that out.

            I’d like to see more stories about people who were actively screwed by a company, to hear what happened, and how they got some resolution. I’d like to see more stories about potential pitfalls that people have seen that others may want to know about. I’d like to see more stories about laws that may affect the average consumer.

            The Consumerist does a lot of this, and has for some time. Unfortunately, since the sale from Gawker, they’ve also had a penchant for posting things like this that don’t really provide any beneficial news to the consumer. All this story says is that staff at 24 Hour Fitness may not honor free passes, and could be rude in the process. You could say the same thing about every business in the country that has staff deal directly with customers.

            If having this opinion makes me a ‘leech’, then so be it.

      • The Marionette says:

        Lol, why you mad tho? Actually what they did is the exact meaning of butthurt. He was denied the passes because of the policies and he got upset about it. Butthurt. Check, and Mate.

    • lain1k says:

      There are rules in place but there are a lot of things employees at clubs can do to get a sale. Allowing someone a 7 day pass is a small price to pay for a possible membership.

  4. milkcake says:

    Maybe she found too many people going for “free” passes. She just can’t trust anyone.

  5. abz_zeus says:

    In this economy I’d of thought, hey may the the guy was worried a few months ago, I’ll apologise that he can’t get his free passes for the rest of the week. Offer to look in to what we can do to make it easier for him to join. Above all don’t loose the sale.

  6. chrisgoh says:

    You enjoyed the club, it is convenient to where you now live. Your girlfriend has been a long term member and likes it. ONE employee gives you a hard time and won’t gives you a few free days. So you are both going elsewhere. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    • ConsumerMan says:

      Sometimes Customer Service is more important than location. There really is nothing worse than someone who gets all high and mighty about silly fine print. There are countless gyms these days, poor customer service shouldn’t be tolerated when there are so many to choose from.

      • Kitten Mittens says:

        Like the customer service where they fully refunded his membership from months earlier? It seems like a wash.

        • Echo5Joker says:

          Heck yeah. Maybe he doesn’t realize how lucky he’s been. Most gyms won’t refund money NO MATTER WHAT. He should have talked to a manager, assuming that lady wasn’t the manager. And if the manager was the problem, then he should leave, and write a letter to the owner telling the owner what happened. I’ve done that several times, and it usually works out well for me. Capitalism is cool.

      • chrisgoh says:

        But this was one employee, obviously the first employee he dealt with treated him fine and no mention of the girlfriend having any customer service issues. Also no mention of trying to escalate it to a manager.

        I find too many customers expect every employee at every location to be perfect. While a great goal, if you are a long term customer anywhere, they are bound to have an off day. If you don’t give them a chance to fix it and take your business elsewhere, you are probably hurting yourself more in the long run since. This seems like a health club that got it mostly right (a rarity) so I think immediately going somewhere else is cutting off your nose to spite your face. (To use the OP’s phrase)

      • Sammich says:

        You’re right, it shouldn’t be tolerated. But there are various levels of response, and this one is overly strong.

        Was this worth complaining to the gym management or corporate office? If the staff member was rude enough about it, sure. But without even giving local or corporate management a chance to deal with the complaint before the “we’re taking our business elsewhere!” response (especially when they have had multiple positive experiences with the location) smells of an entitled crybaby attitude.

    • wkm001 says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. After initially joining your interactions with the staff will be minimal. But every time you have to drive across town and out of your way you will hate that other gym a little more. If you really want resolution, talk to the manager and ask that the employee apologize. I have a feeling the owner would love to have your money.

  7. unimus says:

    The 2nd [redacted] person is the opposite kind of front office employees anyone should hire.

    I do have to give credit to the gym for the full refund Anthony received when he cancelled his membership the first time.

    • Mighty914 says:

      “I do have to give credit to the gym for the full refund Anthony received when he cancelled his membership the first time.”

      I was thinking that. I’m fairly impressed OP got that. My girlfriend is going through a hell of a time canceling her Bally’s membership at the moment, even though she doesn’t go any more.

      • jesirose says:

        Probably because what you get with Bally is not a membership, but a loan.

      • ScubaSteve says:

        Agreed.

        I had a Gold’s month-to-month membership for several years and eventually decided to cancel. No problem right? Wrong.

        Setting the membership up was sooooo easy. The helpful folks at the gym handled everything. Drop by and speak to the same folks to cancel and you will suddenly learn that they can only setup memberships. They cannot cancel one.

        To cancel with my old Gold’s Gym, I was told that I had to contact a special affiliated accounting firm…in writing…via registered mail. I kid you not. They then had 30 days to take action…and heaven forbid that I was one day into my next month’s membership after their 30 days is up…because they will then bill me for yet another month…in addition to the month that they sat on my request. Yes, you have to write a letter, visit the post office, pay for it to be sent registered mail, and then pay for two more months.

        These types of places ensure that setting a membership up is trivial…as are monthly payments…because they demand that you be billed via credit card or bank account…but then setup numerous hurdles to cancel a membership knowing that many will not do so since canceling such a membership is often a difficult decision for many…i.e., folks who decided that they aren’t using it rather than folks who are moving or have identified a more convenient facility.

        I know that this story does not indicate that this gym participates in such practices…and, in fact, appears to imply the opposite, but I use any semi-related example to encourage anyone and everyone to NEVER join a Gold’s or a Bally’s. :)

        these hoops up because they already know that canelling a gym membershio

      • ScubaSteve says:

        Agreed.

        I had a Gold’s month-to-month membership for several years and eventually decided to cancel. No problem right? Wrong.

        Setting the membership up was sooooo easy. The helpful folks at the gym handled everything. Drop by and speak to the same folks to cancel and you will suddenly learn that they can only setup memberships. They cannot cancel one.

        To cancel with my old Gold’s Gym, I was told that I had to contact a special affiliated accounting firm…in writing…via registered mail. I kid you not. They then had 30 days to take action…and heaven forbid that I was one day into my next month’s membership after their 30 days is up…because they will then bill me for yet another month…in addition to the month that they sat on my request. Yes, you have to write a letter, visit the post office, pay for it to be sent registered mail, and then pay for two more months.

        These types of places ensure that setting a membership up is trivial…as are monthly payments…because they demand that you be billed via credit card or bank account…but then setup numerous hurdles to cancel a membership knowing that many will not do so since canceling such a membership is often a difficult decision for many…i.e., folks who decided that they aren’t using it rather than folks who are moving or have identified a more convenient facility.

        I know that this story does not indicate that this gym participates in such practices…and, in fact, appears to imply the opposite, but I use any semi-related example to encourage anyone and everyone to NEVER join a Gold’s or a Bally’s. :)

      • BDSanta2001 says:

        Oh yeah, Bally’s. Certified letters here, certified letters there, certified letters all over to cancel.

  8. Kitten Mittens says:

    Seems like a fairly standard/expected policy from the gym. Although, they clearly didn’t handle it with tact or any niceties.

  9. rdeebee says:

    I drink your power shake! (okay, doesn’t quite fit the situation, but it made me giggle)

  10. OPRAH says:

    My yearly membership costs $5/month. Because I keep renewing it, the price has never changed.

  11. FatLynn says:

    Sorry, no sympathy on this one. If the OP was truly ready to sign up, he didn’t need any more free passes.

    • humperdinck says:

      I’m sorry,OP, that you do not get FatLynn’s sympathy.

      • Murph1908 says:

        He doesn’t get mine either.

        This place refunded his money because he figured out he couldn’t afford it AFTER he signed up. So he goes and uses free passes to the place, and is upset that they don’t want someone who dicked them around recently from continuing to dick them around.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      Hey, I totally agree. But rather than point that out to him, a good manager should have persuaded him to sign up that day rather than treat him like he was scamming the system. I believe the reason he wanted the free passes was because he was unable to sign up until he got paid-so he really was trying to get something for nothing. However, if their promo has a loophole, tough shit for 24 Hour Fitness. The whole point of those free passes is so that you get a stab at convincing this person to join seven times; sometimes it works, sometimes someone just got seven free workouts.

  12. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    The word redacted is funny if you say it a few times. REDACTED!!!

    • RandomHookup says:

      Back in the era of the Watergate hearings, we used to hear [Expletive Deleted] all the time. Johnny Carson worked it into plenty of his monologues.

  13. Hi_Hello says:

    if you want to give the gym another try, go back and talk to the original guy. mention what happen, he’ll probably hook you up with something, or give you a lower rate or something.

  14. jimmyhl says:

    I feel the OP’s pain but……..

    1. It sounds as if the first person he dealt did not know that he had belonged to the club previously.

    2. In any case, gyms get played so bad by transients and flat-out gym whores that they have to keep their eyes open. For every guy like our OP there’s a dozen cheapskates trying to get over with free passes. Remember the Consumerist story about the law student in Manhattan who was writing a book (her words) about working out in every gym in Manhattan by cycling through on prospective-member passes? If the OP’s looking for someone to blame, unfortunately he can start with people like her.

  15. Jim Fletcher says:

    Do what you gotta do, but man… a few months ago they reimbursed you for the entire membership… your girlfriend has been happy there for 3 years… the FIRST employee you dealt with was okay… you worked out and liked the facility well enough to decide you were gonna pay…

    You’re gonna let one bad experience amidst all THAT make you not only NOT join, but your girlfriend is going to cancel her membership too?

    Sounds a little like swatting a fly with a shotgun.

  16. common_sense84 says:

    Just go when a different person is working. Also if your girl friend already likes it, switching would be stupid. All salesmen at gyms will be scum. You cannot avoid that.

  17. jimmyhl says:
  18. ludwigk says:

    It seems to me, the problem here is OP chose a really common form of “new member” abuse that many people use to get free workouts at gyms – the kind of fraud that is so prevalent that gyms have policies specifically to combat it. When your behavior exactly mimics free loaders and scammers, some push back should be expected.

    The gym employee could have handled the situation better, such as offering to sign OP up for a membership on the spot with payments deferred until Wednesday. That was a missed opportunity.

  19. ChickenMcTest says:

    I am willing to place a bet that this is the Rolling Hills Plaza 24 hour fitness because the chick who mans the front desk at night is the most frustrating, miserable human being I have every had to deal with.

    I work out 3 or 4 times a week around the same time after work 7-8pm. I have done so for the last 2 or 3 years. I see this clerk every time I go to the gym. She knows me by name. Every time I go there she asks for my ID.

    I say to her, you know me, I have seen you several times week for the last year. She refuses to allow me to enter with out verifying my membership card against my ID. I understand you need to scan the membership card, but you don’t need to see my ID if you know who I am. She is bat-shit insane for this small amount of power. I have seen her hassling people in a similar manner several times.

  20. SG-Cleve says:

    Tomorrow is Wednesday and you get paid. I suggest you head over to this club, buy your membership, and have a nice workout with your girlfriend.

  21. ap0 says:

    Thank god my crippling personality disorders prevent me from exercising anywhere but the comfort of my own home.

  22. dg says:

    Nose, I hate you, so I cut you off… Signed, Face.

  23. FredKlein says:

    See, this is an example of why you should never talk to the cops.

    Yes, I know it’s about a gym membership, not the police. Bear with me.

    Everything was going smoothly until Anthony mentioned “no one cared about my ID when I was paying money”. This tipped the employee off that they had been a member before, and thus were not eligible for the free passes. The technicality that they had never actually USED their paid membership was lost on the petty minded bureaucrat.

    If Anthony had just sat there with a smile on his face, all would have been good, but he messed it up by talking. He revealed a small piece of information that he never thought would matter. But it did, and he lost out because of it.

    This is the same reasoning why you shouldn’t talk to the police. You may let slip a tiny piece of information that may seem inconsequential, but might end up costing you a lot more than some free gym passes- it might cost you your freedom.

  24. sopmodm14 says:

    yes, its the second employee that screwed up, but the first made the write feel more welcome

    call it a wash, but tell management that the employee (name) made you feel welcome, while the 2nd didn’t

    see what the manager would do. if they take a similar approach to the first employee, its a save, if the situation looks like the 2nd employee, well, you know

  25. nallanos says:

    go to fitness 19 and never sign up. that shit is freeeeeeeeee

  26. tnayen says:

    A different story about 24 hour pain.

    A coworker had their gym bought out by crunch (a gym that values loud music over excersize). So he began searching his neighborhood for alternatives.

    24 hour fitness was nearby.

    He went there and asked for a tour to see what equipment they had.

    The manager said: you are in the computer as using a free day pass in 2001, so I can not let you inside without paying $20 for a day pass.

    Tour = $20

    It turns out that his previous visit was at a 24 that was 40 miles away that is now closed. As an aside, this location is paying out a lawsuit related to training sessions not reimbursed during the closing. Customers weren’t happy being told they’d have to go to an alternate 24 with completely different trainers.

    • hoi-polloi says:

      Especially if your friend just wanted a quick tour of the facilities, the manager’s answer makes no sense. Working out once in another location nearly a decade ago doesn’t tell you a thing about the equipment in that gym. Taking a small amount of time to show him around, or just taking the small hit and giving him a free pass, could have resulted in a membership. Instead, the manager focused on the short-term gain. Bad move.

  27. calchip says:

    24 hour fitness was sold a few years ago to an equity firm. It was an excellent place before that, but on the whole, seems to be pretty good still.

    I, too, have had problems with the occasional power-hungry person wanting to impress me with his or her authority. But unlike those who said not to judge a company by one or two bad employees… I feel like a company should, particularly in this economy, go out of its way to ensure that every one of its employees understands the value of a customer.

    So in my opinion, someone such as the bitch described by the OP has no place working at that gym at all. Or maybe cleaning lockerroom floors or something, but certainly nothing involving members and prospective members. And with people like that, you almost never get any meaningful change by reprimanding them. Much better off to simply make it clear what the standard is for customer service, give one or two warnings, and then terminate. (By the same token, employees who go above and beyond should be regularly and widely recognized and compensated.

    With so much competition, the only way places like 24 hour fitness can differentiate themselves is with their service. When the center managers and district managers understand this, and train their employees accordingly, things can work. But it’s up to us to do as the OP did, and vote with their feet.

  28. BATL says:

    If the dude “really enjoyed the workout”, then why not just join and pay the people?

  29. dwtomek says:

    Money saved on overhead by not allowing 2 free workouts: $0.00
    Money saved by ensuring loss of two memberships: -$900.00 (Guesstimate)

    Genius!

  30. stuny says:

    I was a member of a gym for over six years. On my first day, they gave me that plastic barcode keychain ID tag. Within months the keyring hole ripped out and I made another hole and reattached it to my keychain, no problem. This happened repeatedly over the years until there was no more room to punch a hole without disabling the barcode. I asked them for a new tag and they wanted me to pay $10 for a lost tag fee. I countered that it isn’t lost, it is right here, but worn out. No amount of discussion or negotiaton could get this fee waived. I argued that new members get a new tag, yet I have renewed six times but never have. Even that didn’t work.

    I canceled my membership, went to the gym up the street, and have been with them for eight years. They don’t charge me to replace lost or broken tags because they know the tags cost 5 cents and I pay the thousands of dollars. Business genius I tell ya.