Monday, April 02, 2007

FitnessFirst Cancellation Hell

Yep. FitnessFirst cancellation HELL. And judging from the information I found on some forums, I am not the first and unfortunately would not be the last one either.

My Gym membership is paid monthly. Every month on the first, a direct debit from FitnessFirst would be taken from my credit card account. Having finally made up my mind to quit my gym membership, I went to the nearest FitnessFirst during lunchtime to get the required cancellation papers. I knew I had to give 4 weeks notice and therefore, an extra month will be debitted after first notice of cancellation. So I wanted to get this cancellation notice in as soon as possible.

A request to cancel has to be submitted in writing. And as I soon found out, it must be submitted using one of their Forms.

A form which you will be required to fill in during your 'Appointment' with a Customer Care Manager.

Now here is the suss part. The Customer Care Manager will call you to make an appointment. When I asked them when would they call, I was told usually between 24-48 hours. (No definite timeframe). I was also told that the appointment would be made on a later date.

I told them due to work commitments, I wouldn't be able to make it to any appointment. I am being 100% truthful here. I'm practically 1/2 a field engineer. I have to go onsite to replace parts or solve issues whenever the need arises. I can't even make it to most of my project manager's meetings !! And I'm supposed to make time for some appointment with my Gym's Customer Care Manager to process a cancellation !??

Isn't the whole point of a cancellation supposed to mean that I don't want to go there anymore ??!

I was then told to call the 1300 number for FitnessFirst, the guy at the counter told me that I can speak to the Cancellations call center and they will be able to process it there.

So I went back to the office, and tried out their 1300 number. According to the 3 different people I talked at ranging from the Facility at Pennant Hills to Rockdale, it turns out there is no such thing. Surprise Surprise. Dammit ... I knew he was just trying to get rid of me.

Oh, I did find out one thing though. They had spelt my Surname wrong. And also my street name. Making it a painstaking process to locate me.

The only thing the people at the Facilities could do (that was all I got put through to from their 1300 number), was to put a 'note' \ 'comment' that I called, and that a Customer Care Manager(CCM) would need to call me back regarding my cancellation.

I called one of my friends who had recently quit his Gym membership and asked if he had to go through the same process. He told me Yes. And that the 'notice to cancel' was taken from when the form was submitted. WTF ???

Apparently for him, it was 1 week before he could make an appointment to see the CCM, and 3 weeks before the process was complete. And he was originally under the impression it would be from when he was called to tell them that he wanted to cancel and not when the 'Appointment' with the CCM was conducted. Unfortunately by the time the whole process was completed, he had to pay another month's membership because it had already rolled over to the next month.

He told me to write a letter and hand it in to them, outlining that I wanted to terminate my membership and details what I have done to try get them to process my cancellation. And so I did. Not sure if it would do the trick, but as he said, atleast I've got some kind of writen correspondence. (Even if it is only on my side).

Trying to get one of their people to email me something to confirm that I've requested to cancel my membership was like trying to squeeze blood out of a brick.

It would only be my blood. And it just wasn't going to happen.

One of the people I talked to wouldn't even give me her last name. And was blatantly rude. So much for customer service.

Here are some links to some of the forums I found:

http://phorums.com.au/archive/index.php/t-208801.html

http://au.messages.yahoo.com/health/general-fitness/578?p=last

http://robw.vox.com/library/post/fitness-first-horror-stories.html

http://www.inthemix.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=90608

http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies-archive.cfm/681739.html

http://www.blagger.com/db4/company_id/1035/companyname/Fitness-First.html

http://fitnessfirstsucks.com/

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

if it doesn't cost too much (or you have a friend who is one): why not get a lawyer to send them a letter? many companies get scared as soon as they hear from a lawyer, or at least are more willing to act quickly.

a friend also had success once by saying to a shitty company that he would contact all consumer rights tv shows/magazines and report how he was being treated by them.

pat (your secret fan in thailand ;-))

mon1ca said...

I quit mine with a letter from the company sayin i'm being posted overseas... I even had to show them my contract in Singapore. Stood there for 1+ hour to get their damn attention. I was just as pissed. Damn lady also was sooooo rude to me. shud have informed you. *sigh*

AstroGirl said...

pat... ur back !!! missed you ! :)

I've already downloaded a complaint form from the Dept of fair trading. Going to send it in if I don't hear from them.

mon... *hugs.. its ok. hopefully this post would help spread the word out. Can't believe it takes less than 10 mins to sign you up 'on-the-spot' and yet cancellations are made nearly impossible without incurring another month's membership fee.

btw..I still haven't heard from anyone @ FitnessFirst who had promised to give me a call back.

- chi sin - said...

OIC.... that's why there are so many people selling FF membership on the intranet classified... haahaa...

lucky i am still going to gym... umm... sortta...

tracy said...

I have a pretty similar experience with you! They took $205.79 out of my savings account even after I made my cancellation a day after I made the contract! So basically I was never a member!

I'm still fighting to get my money back :(

how did you do with the cancellation? Did you succeed? Please advice me on this, I really need some help... *sob sob*

AstroGirl said...

hi tracy,

so sorry to hear that you had to go through the same nightmare.

basically i ended up going back to the FF centre and made a lot of fuss in front of a lot of people. I also handed them my written letter for notice of cancellation, and I demanded they cancel my membership right now. and that i didn't care that their customer care manager wasn't available.

In australia, there is something called a '5 day cooling off period' and since you cancelled within the 5 days they should have no right to charge you money for it. I ended up writing to the Department of FAIR Training as well to complain.

I think for you to be able to get your money back, you need to make enough noise. Otherwise they just don't care. good luck. :)

Anonymous said...

christ mate, i used to work there, read ur contract. the CCM form is not a requirement but it is prefered. Hand in a handwritten, dated and signed letter, with your member number (it's on ur membership card), make sure they note it on the system that u handed it in and voila job done.
FF make their money by tricky stupid people, dont believe what they tell you regarding required forms etc. that's how they sucker people in, happened to me before i worked there, take a step back and think for urself.