Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Gold's Gym Fiasco

This past spring, my husband and I decided that we didn't like the long drive to get to our local Gold's Gym, where we were members. Our town's YMCA is much closer, plus they have a lot more basketball options, which is VERY important to my husband.

Knowing that gyms tend to be a little ridiculous in their cancellation policies, we went into our Gold's over two months before our renewal dates to find out what we needed to do to cancel our memberships. We were handed a form to sign and mail to their corporate headquarters.

Fast forward to the beginning of June this year. My renewal date was June 1st, so I should have been done with my membership. On June 5th, I noticed my credit card had been charged for my monthly gym membership fee. What? I called my local gym and was told I had to call their billing company, ABC Financial. I called ABC Financial four times in June trying to straighten things out. Let's just say that I will never again do business with any company that uses ABC Financial for their billing.

I thought everything was straightened out when on July 1st I get billed yet again! Completely fed up, I finally managed to talk to a supervisor at ABC Financial who is semi-helpful. At the same time, I left messages at my local gym, trying to get a solution from both ends. After being told by multiple people that I couldn't have the phone number to the Gold's Gym corporate office (since my request supposedly never got to ABC Financial, I figured it must have gotten lost between corporate and ABC), someone at my local gym relented and handed the phone number over (it's 540-825-5994 if anyone else wants to know!).

I called Gold's Gym corporate and spoke with a super-nice lady named Donna. Donna looked through all of the computer files and couldn't find my cancellation request. Finally, she said, "Well, we had a new person start about the time you sent your form. Let me check our paper files in case the paperwork got filed without being processed."

A minute later, Donna got back on the phone, "You're in luck!" she said, "I found it!"

So that's my Gold's Gym fiasco. My cancellation was back-dated to my renewal date like it should have been. It only took me about TEN phone calls to about FOUR different phone numbers to get things straightened out. Even though things turned out in the end, both Gold's Gym and ABC Financial have lost my business for life because of their poor handling of my situation.

Some Lessons Learned
1. Always mail cancellation requests via certified mail. I was asked on at least five occasions if I had mailed my request by certified mail. Each time I had to answer, "No. I wish someone had TOLD me it needed to be mailed by certified mail."

2. Always make a follow up call making sure your cancellation request was received. I was mad at myself for waiting until I got billed to realize that my request never got processed.

3. Check companies out on the Better Business Bureau's website BEFORE doing business with them! This really wouldn't have helped me since I signed up when my Gold's was brand new, but I'm not surprised that they've had over 100 complaints even though they've only been open for one year!

4. Be wary of gyms. So many people have had problems with gym memberships. I've realized you have to be very diligent in making sure things get handled properly. Avoid letting them charge your credit card monthly if you can. Be prepared to spend hours on the phone once you need to cancel!

Does anyone have a YMCA membership? Anything I should know about dealing with them?!?


Mueller said...

I've had a YMCA membership on two separate occasions. The first time it was an individual membership, and the second time it was a family membership with my wife. Both times the cancellation went smoothly.

The facility and people were great. The biggest gripe about YMCA memberships is their joiner’s fees. It is kinda like they are punishing you for trying to do something healthy. They do have promotions several times during the year where they waive the joiner’s fees. Around New Years every year is one of these times. Both times I had a membership we signed up on New Years to waive the joiner fee, then kept the membership for about 4 months until it was nice enough for outside activities, then canceled.

One other note about all of the YMCAs that I've been to are the number of kids at them. This in itself is not a problem until they are in your way. For example, I like to run on the track. Every visit involved the little buggers chasing each other across the track, jumping rope in the middle of the track, kicking balls at the people on the track, etc. etc.

The last recommendation I would make is to find out when "Teen Nights" are. These are nights for teenagers to go and use the facility for free to keep them out of trouble. Good for the community, bad for Y members. Picture droves of kids standing around being disillusioned. The events only occur once a month so just plan around those days.

That is all I can think of right now. If you have any questions let me know.

Mrs. Micah said...

Wow. I did learn the importance of certified mail when working in property management. If we were mailing contracts or anything that could cause real problems if it got lost, it was cert. But I wouldn't have thought of that with a gym membership.

Becky@FamilyandFinances said...

Thanks so much for all of the information. I had no idea that you didn't need to sign a one-year contract for the YMCA! That is awesome! We're definitely going to go that route this fall.
Do you know when the other times of the year are that they waive the joiner's fee?

Mueller said...

The New Years date seemed to be the only consistent waiver date from year to year. I do recall hearing about them waiving fees when a new YMCA opens (grand opening sale). They don't seem to advertise these things very well. It wouldn't hurt to call and ask if they know when the next time the will be waiving joiners fees. Who knows, maybe they will work something out with you.

Anonymous said...

the number you have listed is no longer in service, My guess is they change it frequently for this reason!!!!they are bastards!!!

Becky@FamilyandFinances said...

You're kidding! That's insane :(