Archive for June, 2005

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FITNESS FIRST BOOBOO

Just wanted to share with y’all what happened to me yesterday when I went to cancel my membership at Fitness First in DU Uptown, and perhaps one of you health/women’s magazines should do a story on the new gyms and their memberships schemes (or should I say scams), help people who join these places understand what they’re getting into.

Last year March 2004, I joined Fitness First in DU and took up a Lifestyle Passport membership that cost me RM175 a month. I was asked to sign a contract which tied me to a few things, one of which was that as a Lifestyle member, I have to remain with the gym for at least a year.

A few months later, I found I was pregnant, and suspended my membership from August 2004 for six months until April 2005. It’s stated in the contract that you have to pay a percentage of your membership fee, which came up to about RM35 a month and I wasn’t allowed to use the gym’s facilities for the duration. Agreed.

This year April, my full membership was reinstated. However, some plans in the near future require me to cancel my membership. Yesterday, I went to do just that.

To my shock, I was told that because I froze my membership for six months, they did not count in my serving my one year’s membership to the gym. So if I wanted to cancel my membership, I would have to pay the difference of RM190 (the normal membership fee) – RM175 (the special ‘Lifestyle’ membership fee) X 6 months since my ‘extended’ membership was supposed to be until September 2005. Of course, I asked for a clarification about this unfair RM90 charge.

The reception clerk told me it’s in the contract I signed, and despite having just glanced the thing, I remember no such thing. And so I asked for the thing to verify. I read it carefully from top to bottom and you know what? It wasn’t there.

So I told the Front Desk Manager, who was the supervisor in charge yesterday, that no such clause existed and asked for her to point it out to me. She clearly had never read the contract herself and after discussing in whispers with her colleague, pointed out another clause to me, that stated that I could not serve as notice (14 days required) using the days when I had my account suspended.

I then told her that my suspension ended April 2005 – wtf was she talking about? I told her I will gladly serve the 14 days notice from yesterday, when my membership is very much fully effective. She then said that this very clause extrapolated another unwritten rule that the suspension period cannot be used for any purpose, INCLUDING the months used in the ‘one year’ one needed to serve as a Lifestyle member.

I told her that was BS and she knew it, and asked her to please refer to her manager before making claims like that. She then told me I was surely briefed about this during my signup. I then asked why then is the clause not in writing, in that contract of hers?

Obviously, she had no answer because this was just another way of making you pay for canceling the membership. The manager’s last ditch at making me cough up the RM90 was, “this is our procedure and other customers also pay.”

Yes, I could not believe it too.

As usual in these kinds of cases, the ‘person in charge’, other than the lady, is never in. So she told me she can’t cancel my membership until this dispute is verified. How long will it take? One day.

Today, she called me at 9am to tell me that my membership is cancelled and the deposit I paid will be used to cover July 2005. To save myself from enduring another ridiculous explanation, I agreed.

So to those of you who are members of these gyms, READ THE CONTRACT and ask about EVERY clause, particularly with regards to when you want to suspend your account or God forbid, cancel it. You may find out a few unpleasant things you never imagined existed.

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