16 December 2005

Gym Membership Tactics

I was with friends at Gurney Plaza when one of them, HW, wanted to enquire about the rates of the newly-opened Celebrity Fitness gym upstairs. I have heard some horrible stories about the salesperson forcing you to join (story later), so I decided to do some research and see if it's true.

We approached the counter and enquired the man there about the rates. As expected, he said he didn't know (duh!) and one of his first questions to us was, "Do you have a credit card?" I find that rude but I decided to play along when he asked us to step in for a quick survey and consultation. Before going in, I decided to play safe and make sure that it was free. You just never know.

So we sat down at their coffee table and Ryan, our sales contact/tour guide handed us a survey form. It asked inane questions like "Why do you want to be fit?" to which I answered "To look better". As with all such situations, I provided fake phone numbers. I have had enough of persistent marketers calling me to learn my lesson.
Ryan glanced through our evaluation form and probably gathered that we weren't serious customers. But he was gracious enough to go through the motions by taking us on a tour of the place. He showed us the peddling machines, resistance machines, the area where the treadmills will be ("It faces the sea!"), the aerobics room, and even the toilet which comes with a steam room and sauna room.

It wasn't a terribly large gym, and after the tour we asked him about their membership rates again. And he asked us to sit down first. It was kinda like bracing us for bad news, as if we will collapse to the floor once we heard the exorbitant price. And it was - at RM149 per month for at least 12 months. If we terminate earlier we need to pay RM189. As with all marketers, he said that today was the "last day to apply to get a waiver on the registration fee and administration fee of RM300". I'm willing to bet if I came in next week it will still be the 'last day'. And he practically gave himself away when he said that if we needed to think it through first we can ask for the waiver again. Worse, he was rubbing his palms together slowly when he said it. That's body language for "What I'm offering is to MY advantage". So guys, next time you see someone rubbing their palms slowly together, run away.

Seriously RM149 is pretty pricey. Unlike Fitness First, you don't have a dedicated personal trainer. They have professionals walking about but you are not specifically assigned one. And their refreshments are not free, though their shampoo and soap is as Ryan kindly reminded us. It's not a huge place, and I doubt anyone will feel comfortable paying that much when they can hop on down to Fitness First or Fitness Studio, another gym wannabe.

Anyway, I was writing about trying to avoid a horror story. What I heard was that after explaining the rates to you, the sales staff wouldn't let you out until you signed up. And it was the kind of door that must be "buzzed out" by the staff so it turned into hell for the potential customer. I think it needed some threats of calling the police before the staff let them out. The name of the gym wasn't mentioned, and I wouldn't want to mention it here even if I knew it.

But what's with these gyms and their annoying marketing tactics? Even Fitness Studio wouldn't tell me their BodyJam schedule over the phone and asked me to go personally for more information.


Mun said...

Just want to let you know that Mun has dropped by here at your blog. Nice blog you have. Keep it up.

diana kelvin said...

A nice good list of ideas here - going to give a lot of these a read.