Back when I first started the whole running thing, I had joined a gym-Bally’s-when they were having a promotion in conjunction with The Discovery Channel as part of TDC’s National Body Challenge. I signed up with a contract, then went month to month after the contract ended, then finally when we moved further away from the closest club than I was willing to drive, I just cancelled the membership.
A couple of weeks ago, I received postcard advertisements for a place called YouFit Health Club. Apparently one had just been opened a couple of miles down the street from me (it took over the nearby 21 Fitness club) and they were offering a month-to-month membership for only $29 down and $10 per month. Considering my month-to-month at Bally’s after my contract was over was $20 per month, I thought this was a great deal. I checked out their web site and local reviews...everything looked good so I discussed with DH and finally went to the club on Sunday to check it out.
It was larger than the Bally’s I had used with a LOT more machines, both cardio and weights. They also had a classroom that they had group classes in, plus balance balls, mats, etc just like my Bally’s had. Overall it looked good, so I decided to go ahead and register. And yesterday-two days later with no visits for workouts-I cancelled. The next paragraph is taken almost word for word from my cancellation letter.
I was disappointed by several things with the registration process. First, I specifically asked if there was a contract since I wanted to do the month-to-month and was told no, it was just a simple month to month membership. When I received the email with my forms attached, the first page was a Membership Agreement which clearly states it is a “contract/note/agreement” (and when you look at it, it is clearly obvious just at a glance that it is a contract-no matter what they want to call it). Second, while I was told there were annual club dues of $29.99 per year every September, I did not realize she meant I would be charged this September-barely over two months after joining (shouldn’t this be something I would be charged for on my anniversary next year?). I have no problem paying an annual fee, but two months after I join (and just paid $29 to do so)? Third, I was never informed that if I wanted to cancel in the future that there would be a $25.00 processing fee to do so, I found this out when I received the email with my “contract”. Finally, when I was told the amount due at signup, I was told $51.94. When I asked why when the introductory fee was $29 and it is $10/month, I was told members are charged first and last month up front. I was not told this before I signed off on my registration, only when my card was about to be charged at the very end of the whole process.
I was not given an opportunity to read all of the things the “contract” said when signing up; I was told the highlights at each point I that I had to sign the electronic signature pad ($10 per month with a one-time $5 increase; Annual Dues; club policies regarding dress code and use of the facility, etc) and since I was told there was no contract, I was under the impression that those items were all I was agreeing to. Um, apparently not. You aren’t presented with actual paper forms to sign-they tell you the info and you sign the little credit card signature pad after each thing they tell you about, the way the person who signed me up presented it to me, she was saying “oh, you’re acknowledging it’s $10 per month with a one-time $5 increase after a year; this is saying you agree to abide by club policies like the dress code; this is permission to debit your monthly fee, etc”. Nothing she said made it sound anything like I was signing a legal contract, she basically just said one or two things each time like they were no big deal and then said I’d get an email with my forms for my records.
Now maybe I’m just unbelievably naive. Other than buying cars (where you sign so many forms you just lose track by the time you’re done), I’ve only ever signed one contract...the one at Bally’s, and they had paper forms and went over everything very carefully with me (and oh, by the way, Bally’s doesn’t charge for canceling, or at least they didn’t as of 2 years ago). But from the totally nonchalant way the whole signup process went, I got absolutely no impression that I was agreeing to some official contract-until I received that email with it attached.
And so I was ticked off...and it’s a good thing I read the email and its attachments in time to cancel within the first 3 days. Though the people at the front desk tried to tell me I’d get my refund in 7-10 days. Yeah, I don’t think so. Spoke to the manager (who understandably tried to explain how their agreements worked, “how can I make this right”, the girl that helped you was new, etc etc etc) about the whole thing and she immediately refunded me.
While YouFit seems like a great, low-cost alternative and I was looking forward to being able to go the the gym and not have to wait for equipment or limit my time on any equipment, plus it is literally 5 minutes from the house...the whole registration process just rubbed me the wrong way and gave me a negative view of the club. I know of others who are members and like it just fine, and maybe I would have liked it too---IF I had received all of the information up front. To find all the other details out after I was already signed up (the email didn’t come until the next day)...not cool.
And so I’m back to my outdoor miles, my yoga DVD, free weights in my office and using the teeny tiny gym in my complex (2 treadmills, 1 elliptical, 1 stair machine, 1 recumbent bike and a couple of weight machines) plan instead. Ah well, I’ve done it before, I’ll be doing it again.
Happy Training Everyone!
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