Quitting the Gym

Everyone knows that quitting the gym is hard. It was even a topic of a Friend’s episode (#404 The Superball) whereChandlertried to quit the gym and took Ross along for support.  Both ended up gym members.  You pay exorbitant fees to join, sign a lifetime contract and then you realize you are wasting money or like in my case you move and you want to quit the gym, but it’s not that easy.

I joined Gold’s Gym in 2002 and went regularly.  I loved my gym.  It was big and beautiful and had lots of equipment and I could go to other Gold’s Gyms which I did occasionally.  Sure there were meatheads and steroid inflated people everywhere but it was the best gym around.  I could walk to it from my apartment and my company got a discount for joining.  It was perfect, but then I moved.  I still considered staying a member since it was only twenty minutes away, but to drive twenty minutes to the gym to sweat took extra motivation and I don’t have it.  So in March I headed to the gym to say good-bye or so I thought.

My first trip to quit was a complete failure.  It was a Saturday and I was told by the man behind the counter that “only Mike handles membership cancellations” and he wasn’t there.  I had to return sometime Monday through Friday from 1pm to 10pm.   Well that is inconvenient so it took me two more weeks to get there.  This time Mike was there.  Oh he was tricky and asked all the right questions.  No I haven’t found a new gym yet.  No I don’t want to pay a new start up fee.  He could see I loved the gym and convinced me to freeze my membership for three months at the “freeze rate” of only $10 until I could find a new gym.  He told me if I did find a new gym that I could just email him and he would finalize the cancellation.  Sounded good at the time.

Well I found a new gym, one that stinks, but it’s close to both home and work.  Convenience at this point in my life is essential.  Well, I emailed Mike and figured it was a done deal.  It was not.  My credit card was charged again the next month the freeze rate.  So another email and phone call to the gym but Mike was not there.  Frankly I forgot about it until my credit card was charged again.  This time I had to be more diligent because my three month frozen period was over and if I got charged again it would be the full rate.  I thought that not gonna happen but it is.  So I emailed Mike again and CC’d the corporate email address and was informed that Mike is no longer with the company.  No wonder he never returned my messages.  I was told to contact ABC Financial Services who now handles gym cancellations.  OK easy enough, or so I thought.

I dialed the 800 number and an electronic voice answered requesting that I enter my “commitment number”.  What is that?  I tried the number on the back of key chain card but that didn’t work and after a couple minutes of empty air time, a woman with a strangely southern accent answered.  I told her that I wanted to cancel my gym membership and she said “Sure thing, but we’ll need that in writing and with 30 days advanced notice.”   What?  She said send I needed to send  a registered letter with my commitment number on it and then and only then will they cancel my membership.  And she said in her ridiculously thick accent, “And by the way, the 30 days starts with the postmarked date on your letter.”  I said that is ridiculous and explained that I have been trying to cancel my member ship for 2 months now.  I said can I fax it?  She said no only a registered letter would be accepted.  I was pissed and I don’t often get mad and I let he know I was pissed.  That didn’t help but she must be used to people being pissed because without skipping a beat or even a change in her tone she merely said, “Do you want the mailing address or not.”   Of course I do and of course it was some P.O. box in nowhereArkansas.  I have been toArkansasand had no trouble realizing that this woman sits in some one story office building with ten other women billing for companies who outsource to the lowest bidders.  I found that annoying.

So this morning I typed up my letter and headed to the post office where I stood in line and waited for my turn to send my registered letter.  The nice postal worker asked if it needed to be registered or if it could go certified which is much cheaper.  I told him what it was and he suggested I stick with registered.  How much could it be if for 44 cents I could mail this letter anywhere in the country?  It was $11.19 to mail a letter to a company with shameful billing policies simply so I could cancel my gym membership.  So the moral of this long winded story, when you want to quit the gym, cancel the credit card they have on file.

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