While looking over Google Earth, I find a strange but huge complex that I figured out to be a health club/gym.
I drive and walk into this gym. A receptionist greets me, and tells me it will be closed in an hour.
I ask if I can have a tour of the place. Receptionist tells me to go ahead. I have no clue which way to go, so I ask where to go. She says: “just go through the door”
I take a confusing self-tour, and come back out to the receptionist. I ask, “can I get some information for membership?”
Receptionist answers, “sure,” and hands me over a membership pamphlet.
I go to the gym after work. I ask the receptionist where I can sign up for new membership.
Receptionist tells me, “membership is closed.”
I say, “OK. Well, when can I come back?”
She tells me, “it’s open on Monday at 8AM until 5PM”
I go to the membership office to find a guy helping me out. As I wait on the door, he asks me: “can I help you?”
‘Why on earth would I be here?’ I think, and respond back to him, “I’d like to sign up for a new membership”
He finally smiles a me and sits me down. Tells me about the two plans they have: one that includes playing tennis, and one without the tennis (only the gym).
Then I tell him, “the only reason I came here is to play tennis. Wow, how many indoor courts do you have?”
He tells me, “We have 13. And… will you be using the gym at all?”
I tell him, “a little swimming maybe. And maybe a little bit of the treadmills. But for now, tennis only”
So he offers me the tennis plan – which adds $40 more per month than gym use only.
So I quickly sign up.
Before I leave, I ask, “So how do I use the courts?”
He answers, “Just go in there and play. And you don’t have to reserve. Use whatever’s empty. Nobody cares.”
I arrive at the gym to play tennis with two friends. I check then in as guests at the reception.
The receptionist asks, “I don’t see you on the court reservation. You have to reserve them in advance.”
I tell her, “well, the membership guy told me not so”
She answers, “normally you have to, but I’ll let you go this time. How many hours are you playing?”
I don’t know what to say… “Uh… 2 hours?
She responds, “That’ll be $26”
‘What!? What on earth is this!!! Kidding me?’
So I answer, “Wait, I’m paying extra for the courts while paying $40 extra every month! I didn’t know about this fee!”
Receptionist says, “Maybe the membership guy forgot to tell you. You have to pay for court fees. What you’re paying extra is for tennis court access. It’s just to get on the courts.”
I ask the receptionist, “when is membership open tomorrow (Saturday)?”
She tells me, “go look at the schedule there.”
I brought my pals from far away, so we decide to play an hour. We were the only people there on the courts. After an hour, we went over the hour mark. So we decide to continue, to pay when done.
Suddenly, this middle-aged man with a moustache walks up to us with a well-built, young apprentice behind him, and shouts, “I don’t see you on the court reservations.”
I tell him, “I know, I don’t. But I paid reception to play here just now.”
He shouts back, “You paid for an hour. You played more now. What are you gonna do about it? You’re gonna pay for it? Huh? What are you gonna do?”
I got my two hours of hard, sweaty tennis to get rid of some stress. But it gave me more.
I felt I was cheated, I felt I was in some kind of a pyramid scheme, or ponzi scheme, and I’ve lost my fortune on investment.
There were national chain health clubs nearby – but I selected this, just because it was so huge, there weren’t millions of people crowded in it, and because it had indoor tennis courts.
So the next day, I did bring the plan back to a basic plan. Tennis wasn’t worth it – there were hundreds of outdoor courts nearby where I could play for free. The only benefit of my club was that it had indoor – so that I could play tennis during winter and rainy days.
But the fascinating thing is that although I really felt like I shouldn’t carry on with this club – as they have been rude, unprofessional, and untruthful – I decided to stay.
Why? Because it was 1. close to my home 2. not well marketed – meaning, there weren’t crowds of people
And more importantly, as long as I didn’t interact with any employee, I could be better served.
Coming to think of it, I think I have been like this in many services I’ve paid for despite poor service. Whether it was a restaurant, an amusement park, a bar, or a customer service call – I’ve been given the impression that the brand was terrible – in fact, I would never recommend them to any of my peers – but as for myself, I wouldn’t change or leave that place. Isn’t that fascinating? I hate it, but I end up using it. I think for every single instance, I’ve been able to find a reason to make it seem like a necessity – shouldn’t leave ’cause I’m already in here and I’m starving, shouldn’t leave because I already paid for parking for 2 hours, shouldn’t leave because there aren’t any other bars nearby, shouldn’t terminate service because doing so would be too complicated.
I think the main reason for this is because of pure laziness – I know how difficult and complex it is to terminate/leave, and just didn’t have the will to move on. In my case with the health club, it’s the same – and this one happens quite often – as long as I get to use their product/service without any of their employees making me mad, I’ll be fine.
It’s very ironic. The People – who are paid employees to better serve customers, actually make it worse – I’d prefer to avoid them than to be satisfied because of their presence.
While I’m still stuck to this poor service, in the end, the will get what they deserve – because I will make sure no one around me sign up for new membership.