Like most everyone else, I’ve been looking for ways to cut expenses and get bills paid off faster. That nagging $20 per month membership fee from my gym finally became the thing my eye focused on this past week.
I was avoiding changing things, because I didn’t want to feel like abandoning the gym monetarily was a sign that I’d somehow failed in my quest to lose weight. As long as the fee was being billed, some screwball part of my brain reasoned, there might be a chance that I’d actually go.
But I hadn’t been going. I’ve learned that I don’t do that well when it comes to exercise if I have to go it alone: I find too many distractions and too many excuses not to go. I’ve also found that I do even worse when my workout partner is of the personal trainer ilk: that over-excited, combination cheerleader/drill sergeant mentality that “won’t accept no for an answer” does not motivate me, but rather leaves me so sore and in so much pain that I never want to set foot in a gym again.
So I called my gym to find out about switching from the $20 per month option to an alternate $10 per month option. I’d be giving up the ability to bring a guest with me, which I’d never done, anyway. I’d also be giving up the option of using any of the gym’s locations rather than just the one closest to my home, which I’d never done, anyway. And I’d lose the ability to step into their tanning beds and increase my chances for skin cancer for free, which I’d never done, anyway.
In short, the perks of the $20 per month option didn’t really seem all that necessary.
The problem was, the gym told me that I’d have to pay $59 to switch cards. This fee is one that the company itself clearly does not understand. Its corporate social media guru told me, via Twitter, that it was a “buyout fee” to close out the $20-per-month account. The manager at the location I used said it was a “transfer fee.” The employee who just happened to be at the desk when I stopped by said that it was an “activation fee” for the new account.
I’m already “activated” since I’m already a customer. So I wouldn’t pay an activation fee. (When I first signed up, there was a deal going in which they waived any activation fee, so it had never been an issue before.) I’m not under a contract with any time commitment, so there should be nothing to “buyout.” As for the notion of a “transfer fee,” if the object of the exercise is to save $10 per month, I’m certainly not interested in paying $60 to do so: at that rate, it’d be seven months before I saw any savings!
I asked the employee what the fee would be to just cancel my membership.
“Oh, there’s no fee to cancel.” With that, he destroyed the corporate social media guy’s “buyout fee” story: if there’s no fee to cancel, then there’s no fee to cancel, period.
So I canceled.
Now I’ll be saving twice what I intended per month, and I’ll use the fitness center at my apartment complex on the days its too cold to walk. (Walking is, after all, what my doctor said I needed to focus on.)
It’s a shame companies are so willing to charge pointless fees that they lose sight of making it easier for the customer to stay: if they’d have just let me switch for free, they’d still be getting $120 per year from me. By being so rigid (and confused over what the fee’s actually for), now they’ve lost $240 a year.
Good job, folks.