Membership Fee/Lack of Customer Care
Attached is my complaint letter to a district manager of Gold's Gym. It is quite long because I had a lot of complaints. In summary, Customer Care does not exist with Gold's Gyms. In addition, the managers I encountered did not return my emails or did not follow through on anything they said they would do. I had canceled my membership at one Gold's and signed up at another Gold's, only to find out - months later while I was in Europe - that they had not canceled my membership and had continued to bill my canceled credit card. Therefore, I was paying for two memberships. My attempts to have the manager of the initial gym or Customer Service address the issue while I was in Europe were futile.
After the district manager received my letter, he called up a few days later to say that Gold's would refund the $140 they had charged my canceled credit card after I had canceled my membership. However, I received no apology for the incompetence of the managers involved or the complete lack of customer care that I received. The manager said that he "bent over backwards" for me because he "understood that I was upset." I wanted to take issue with his response, which made it seem like he was doing me a favor for returning the money that Gold's owed me. Needless to say, I will never join another Gold's Gym. If you do, do not depend or rely on statements made by the managers and never expect any help regarding billing from Customer Care.
Here is the complaint, with names deleted:
Mr. ****: (Anil of Customer Care - please file this complaint, too)
I signed up with the Rockville Town Center Gold's Gym on January 27, 2008. During the second week of June 2008, I moved from Rockville, Maryland to Baltimore, Maryland. I then signed up at the Dundalk, Maryland Gold's Gym. I spoke with the manager at Dundalk, *****, about transferring my membership from Rockville to Dundalk. Ms. **** told me that she spoke with *****, a manager at Rockville, who said that I could not transfer memberships. The reason for this, according to ***** (the manager of Dundalk), was that **** (the manager of Rockville) said that Rockville was a corporate gym and Dundalk was a franchise. Therefore, I needed to go to Rockville, in person, and sign a cancellation form and then sign a new membership form for Dundalk.
***** (the manager of Dundalk) also informed me that ***** (the manager of Rockville) said that I had an outstanding balance at Rockville. What had happened was that I lost my credit card in March from which the Rockville gym had been using to deduct my monthly membership fees. Therefore, I had an outstanding balance of $79.98 for April and May of 2008 at the Rockville gym. On June 13, 2008, I went to the Rockville Town Center Gold's Gym to pay my balance and cancel my membership ("Relocation" being the reason for cancellation). *****, a manager at Rockville, filled out my cancellation form and took my $79.98 payment from my new credit card. In addition, it was agreed that I was still owed one month's membership. ****, *****, and ***** (another manager of Rockville) were all standing there and agreed that I was owed one month's fee after a short discussion. **** assured me that I would "receive a check in the mail" from the corporate billing center. The reason I was owed a month's membership was that on January 27, I paid $79.98 (first and last month's fee of $39.99). In February I paid $39.99. In March, I received a credit for signing up a friend. In April and May, my canceled credit card was charged. On June 13, I paid $79.99 to cover April and May (which was my last month). Therefore, it was agreed I was owed $39.99 because I had paid the last month (May) and was owed the $39.99 that I paid on January 27 as the last month's fee.
On July 1, 2008, I traveled overseas for three months.
Complaint against ***** (a manager at Rockville):
I emailed the Rockville gym at the end of July through the online email form on Gold's Gym's online website regarding the fact that I had yet to receive my refund check of $39.99. ***** sent me a response on August 31, claiming that he would "direct his attention to this matter as soon as [he] got back." ***** never bothered to get back to me.
On September 16, 2008, while I was overseas, my father received a forwarded notice in the mail from a credit collection agency stating that I owed Gold's Gym $139.97. The reason for this was that, for some reason, Gold's did not cancel my membership on June 13, even though I filled out a cancellation form. Therefore, Gold's had continued to bill my canceled credit card.
On September 16, 2008, I emailed ***** (same manager at Rockville) regarding this issue, asking him to tell me what had happened and to address the issue. (email attached). Again, **** did not respond.
On September 21, 2008, I emailed ***** again asking him whether he had received my previous emails and whether he was addressing the issue. (email attached). Again, I received no response from *****.
Complaint Against Gold's Customer "Care":
I also emailed Gold's Customer Care regarding the $139.97 that I was charged. I emailed them through the online email form provided on Gold's Gym's website. Not surprisingly, I received no response.
I then called Customer Care, long distance from Germany, and spoke with ****. I told her of my problem. Her response was that I needed to fax her my copy of the cancellation form from the Rockville gym. I told her that that was impossible as I was overseas and my copy was in the states. That was the end of the "customer service." She refused to call up the Rockville gym to speak with a manager to determine what had happened. She claimed that Customer Care did not have any contact with Gold's Gyms affiliates. They just dealt with billing issues. I had to ask myself then, why is it called "Customer Care" when all they do is deal with money issues? She also did not provide me with the phone number to the Rockville gym, claiming that she did not have numbers for the gyms. When I asked her if she could look it up the number on the internet for me, she claimed that no one in Customer Care had internet access.
I also had to ask myself where the original sheet of my cancellation form was. Did Rockville have it? Did they send it to Texas? Why couldn't someone, like Customer Service, determine where it was, find it, and confirm that I had cancelled my membership?
As far as I understand, the originals from the cancellation forms are sent to Texas. Why is it that someone at Customer Care, in Texas, cannot take the time to find the original and help someone like me resolve my billing issue? Too much trouble? I guess it is easier to force the customer who is overseas to fax his copy of the cancellation form. If he or she cannot, or if he or she no longer has it, then too bad. Gold's will continue to bill him.
I returned to the states on October 14. I faxed **** at Customer Service a copy of my cancellation form on October 16. On October 17, I called her up to determine if she had received the fax and to see what actions she was going to take. She claimed that the reason I had been billed after June 13 (and was continuing to be billed!!) was because the billing department had not received any evidence of relocation with my cancellation form. I told her that ***** at the Rockville gym did not ask for such evidence. (I did not bother to try to discuss with **** (of Customer Care) that it made absolutely no sense that I would want to pay membership fees at two gyms). I asked **** why I was being charged for a mistake made by Gold's Gyms' employees. She apologized that I did not know the procedure, but that I was not going to get a refund because she did not have some evidence of relocation. And, until she did, I would continue to get charged.
What kind of customer service is that? What business has the policy of forcing its customers to pay for the mistakes of its employees? What business tells its customers, in essence, "Sorry our employees made a mistake, but you should have known better"??!! Unbelievable.
Then ***** (of Customer Care), after I was able to make clear to her that I cancelled because I went from a corporate (Rockville) to a franchise (Dundalk), said that I should have filled out a "D. C. Alliance Transfer Form." She then apologized that Gold's employees did not inform me of this, implying that it was just too bad ( i.e. my fault because I did not know) and stating that I still owed the $139.97 and all subsequent charges because I was "still under obligation," although she had a copy of my cancellation form in front of her.
I hung up, totally frustrated and in complete disbelief.
Complaint Against **** and **** (managers at Dundalk Gold's Gym):
I informed **** in the middle of June that I was going to be overseas for a few months and asked her whether I could put a freeze on my membership. She said yes. I told her, in person, that I would be gone July, August, and September. On September 27, I sent her an email to confirm my membership freeze. (email attached).
I checked my account during the first week of August and noticed that my account had been charged a monthly fee for July and August ( i.e. no freeze was put on my account). On August 14, 2008, I emailed ***** again, asking her what was wrong and to take care of the problem. (email attached). ***** did respond, claiming that she would "be back in touch with me Monday [sic] to let me know how they plan to resolve this issue for me." She never got back to me.
As an aside, I asked ***** in an August 15 email if she had any suggestions as to what recourses or actions I could take regarding the monthly membership fee owed me by the Rockville gym, as Customer "Care" and **** (manager at Rockville) were either too lazy or did not feel it worthwhile to respond to my emails. Again, I received no response from ****. I guess it was not her problem.
On September 17, 2008, I sent **** yet another email regarding my membership freeze because I had just been charged for September. (email attached). **** did not respond, but her colleague, ***** did. (email attached). ***** said that she had refunded my account for September and had put a freeze on my account.
On September 19, 2008, I emailed **** and thanked her. I also told ***** about my problem with owing the Rockville gym $139.97 and asked her if she had any suggestions as to what recourse I could take, as Customer "Care" did not care and **** (manager at Rockville) did not bother to respond to my emails. Not surprisingly, **** did not respond. I guess it was not her problem either.
On October 15, 2008, I had to write yet another email to **** and **** informing them that I was still owed money for July and August. Apparently ***** (my initial point of contact at Dundalk) did not follow through and tell **** (who was supposed to refund my money) this or **** did not read any of my many emails that **** (the initial manager) claims she forwarded to ***** (the person in charge of billing), which clearly stated that I required a refund for July and August and not just September.
In sum, ****, I am owed $139.97. Rather, my father is owed that amount because he had to pay it while I was overseas, fearing that the collection agency would ruin my credit. I also believe, as did **** and ***** (managers at Rockville), that I am owed $39.99 from Rockville for a month's membership that I overpaid.
I also want to formally file a complaint against **** (ROckville manager) for not bothering to respond to my emails. Because he did not take the time to address my issue and help me resolve it, I have wasted a lot of time and money. Perhaps ***** was too "busy" and thought that I would just go away if he ignored the issue. Perhaps most people do go away. A manager needs to have some work ethic and sense of responsibility.
**** and ***** (managers at Dundalk) need to follow up on issues. If something is still wrong after a couple of months, they need to follow through on the issue and make sure it is resolved correctly. They also need to update customers on what is going on, especially when they say they will give the customer an update. I have been running after **** and **** for four months, trying to get them to email me back about my issue. Sometimes they have, only after I nag them enough. They should take the initiative to follow up and communicate with me what is going on. Why am I the one begging them to fix a problem for four months?
***** was gracious enough to offer me two free months membership for all of my troubles. However, I canceled my membership today and will not be needing those two free months. I must say that ***** and ***** have been better in the last few days in emailing me and letting me know what is going on (probably realizing that I will not go away and am annoyed). Although I think they could have done a better job the last few months of following through on this issue and keeping me updated, it seems that the real problem lies with Gold's billing office.
The problem, however, lies not just with ***** (managers of Gold's). Customer "Care" at Gold's is a joke. I call up a representative, ****, and am told that, although Gold's employees have made a mistake, I am the one that has to pay. That is ridiculous. What kind of business is run like that?
These are not isolated incidents. It seems many people have had issues with Gold's Gyms' billing policies. (see http://www.my3cents.com/companyOverview.cgi?code=250). I am also going to add "my 3 cents" to that website. My impression is that once Gold's has your credit card number, the customer service stops. The overbilling occurs and most people probably just pay it to forgo the hassle of dealing with managers who don't care or don't know what to do and a Customer "Care" department that washes its hands of matters. I have been a member of Gold's for many years in PA, D. C., and MD. However, I will never join Gold's again. I will never recommend it.
I am sure all of these people are nice, sweet individuals. However, I am spent countless hours writing emails, making phone calls (some international calls), and hours driving back and forth from Baltimore to Rockville, taking care of these various issues. There is a systemic problem of lack of customer service. Managers need to address issues that their customers bring up instead of ignoring them, hoping the customer and the problem will just go away. Customer "Care" needs to care and make an effort to resolve an issue rather than just shrugging their shoulders and saying that the customer will continue to get billed unless the customer takes the time to fix a problem caused by Gold's employees. Furthermore, managers need to do what they say, i.e. email a customer back when they say they will and follow through on something until the issue is completely and correctly resolved. I understand people can make mistakes. However after numerous emails from a customer regarding an issue and the issue is ignored or not properly addressed, it is no longer an honest mistake or an oversight. It is just incompetence and/or laziness.
*****, please inform me what actions you are going to take regarding this email, most importantly regarding the money that I am owed. Attached are my Rockville cancellation form and my Dundalk membership form that **** said she required to transfer my Rockville account to Dundalk (back in June - but for some reason the D. C. Alliance Transfer Form was not used then).