My paperwork is clear, but that doesn't seem to stop Goodlife from mucking things up!

My paperwork is clear, but that doesn’t seem to stop Goodlife from mucking things up!

Is there a fee that companies pay in order to get listed on the “best-managed companies in Canada” list? It can’t be based on merit; Goodlife Fitness is on there, and they’ve got some of the most spectacularly awful business practices I’ve ever seen!

I grant, the problems may be worse at certain clubs. In fact, some of the clubs in town are quite well run… just not my branch.

Usually the ineptitude doesn’t impact me too much – aside from some broken equipment here and there and washroom/shower facilities in desperate need of an overhaul. Last week, though, it did impact on me… or at least on my bank account.

A year ago, one of my instructor friends gave me a coupon for a one-year membership at a reduced rate of $200 for the year. That’s a really sweet deal. Even with the rate I was paying – $22 biweekly; a rate I only had because I had been a member for so long (since 1998!!) – my annual fees were nearly $600.

Still, given that I didn’t know where my next $200 coupon might be coming from, I didn’t want to lose my $22 rate. So last August, I was very clear with the staff person who was helping me set up the new $200 account. I wanted to put my existing membership ON HOLD.

“Not a problem,” she said, and she even wrote it on the paperwork. I have a copy! It reads ‘Hold one year with access, has family membership $199.’ It even has a payment restart date listed! She then gave me a new membership card (for the one-year membership) and took away my old card telling me I’d have to bring the paperwork back at the end of the year and set things back in order on the old account. (funny… couldn’t they just restart automatically on the date listed?)

Ayway, it all seemed pretty clear, huh? Apparently not!

I went in last week and was told that my one-year membership had come to an end. “Fine,” I said, “I’ll need to bring my paperwork in tomorrow to set things right.” How did I know there would be trouble?

Next day, the girl behind the counter studied my paperwork and started to type into her computer. Her furrowed brow told me this wasn’t going to go well. She trotted off to see the manager who in turn spent another 10 minutes reviewing my file before finally coming out to address me.

It turns out my old membership was cancelled!

“What about the notes that say ‘Put on hold,’” I asked, but the manager, while friendly, was completely unhelpful. She basically said there’s no way to reactivate your old account, and we can’t get you a new account at your old rate… because it doesn’t exist anymore. Her exact words were “The rates are pretty much written in stone.”

Now, I know GL would love me to believe that there’s no way they can adjust how much someone pays, but that’s a complete crock. As if there’s some unlockable code that dictates how much comes out of my bank account. A simple call to head office could have easily been placed to have the situation set right.

But I didn’t press the issue and agreed to come back at the new rate ($29 biweekly, or more than $750 a year!), in part because the manager offered to not withdraw any money until mid November, to help offset the additional cost.

Quite frankly, I’d be a lot more pissed off – and I’d be demanding to speak to someone at head office, or threatening to take them to small claims court, contract in hand – if it weren’t for mitigating circumstances. I’m going to be getting a FREE membership in a few more weeks.

Junkii has been an instructor for nearly a year, and on his anniversary, he’ll be getting a free membership for a family member (i.e. me!). At which point, I’ll just cancel my existing membership and get rid of fees altogether. In fact, having the no-withdrawals-until-mid-November clause is ideal for me. It basically means my free membership starts now, before Junkii even gets the coupon.

So rather than be pissed off, I’m left just shaking my head at this company, secure in the knowledge that GL’s membership system – which is basically limited to tri-ply paper forms that don’t seem to get entered into any sort of useful computer system – is woefully inadequate. It’s barely managed as it is and certainly doesn’t merit the title of one of the best-managed companies in Canada.

Sadly, I still love my gym and all the friends I’ve made there, so I can’t even take my business elsewhere. Doesn’t mean I can’t complain though!

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