9 most common complaints against fitness clubs in S'pore

Yeah, getting fit can be tough.

Belmont Lay| July 04, 02:56 AM

Fitness clubs. The place where people go to lift metal plates up in the air and put them down again.

It is where running on the spot -- like a hamster on a wheel -- while breathing solely through your nose is considered good form.

This is where torsos get ripped and people come here to see and be seen.

However, amid the testosterone and sweaty nubile bodies in the shower, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) has flagged two fitness clubs in Singapore for the unusually high number of complaints lodged against them.

Nine complaints have already been made against California Fitness and 13 complaints lodged against True Fitness within the first four months of 2014 alone.

In 2013, California Fitness received 35 complaints and True Fitness received 31 complaints.

So what are the usual grouses? Not enough hot chicks? Personal trainers did not shave? The shower is filled with perverts?

Well, not really.

The most common complaints are about how members are not allowed to terminate membership, had to pay a termination fee, had refunds refused, had membership renewed automatically or are pressured to sign up for a longer package.

You can easily scour the Internet for anecdotes of grouses on forums, message boards, dedicated complaint portals, old newspaper articles and even comments of related articles.

If you don't have the time, don't worry because here are 9 things people hate about fitness clubs in Singapore in general (not just the two flagged by Case):


1. Poor customer service

This is one of the most common gripes. Either that or it is one of those gripes that really set people off easily enough that they take to the Internet to write about it extensively.

This complaint follows a pattern: Customers are treated like kings, until the paper work gets signed.

That is when customers' calls don't get returned, there is no timely follow-up to queries and the person in-charge of getting back to the person with a question mysteriously disappears.

But it is really a common tactic: The salesperson pushing the membership will make a good first impression by being attentive and patient.

When the money's handed over, game over.


2. Inflexible termination policies

The reason fitness centres are in business is because people keep paying to use their facilities. And also paying not to use any.

The common gripe is that to terminate the membership, you'd need to prove that you have been medically certified as a drooling vegetable or that you have fled the country, never to return.

Or else, you might even have to fork out more money just to terminate a membership early. And you might even have to forget about getting a refund back.


3. Different membership rates

Fitness clubs sometimes operate using a strategy called "Pull a number out of my ass a hat".

You referred a friend? You get $50 off. I don't like your face? That's 20 percent more you're paying.

Somehow the monthly membership fee of $120 to $170 is dependent on existing promotions, the weather and how flaky the salesperson is.


4. Harassed to take lessons while working out

The treadmill can sometimes be the most annoying place to be in the gym. Because you got nowhere to run, you have to put up with the hard sell tactics of personal trainers or other staff.


5. Hard sell tactics

Complimentary. Introductory. Trial. These are all dirty words.

Fitness is all about sales.

You'd be lured to try out something and before you leave, convinced to take up a package because it is really cheap and good and imagine all the feel good vibes you can get by walking into this place and sweating it out.

How about signing up for a longer package? It is much cheaper, sir. You can visit all the other clubs located conveniently across Singapore. Sir? Sir? Why not just give it a try? You can talk to my manager who can give you a better price?


6. Cannot make appointment with fitness trainer

Now, this is gold. After you paid for your membership and think that you can now also acquire the services of the personal trainer who promised to introduce you to his whole bag of tricks to get ripped and improve posture, you realise he cannot be booked at the times you are free.

The fitness trainer is always somewhere else or booked for some other thing.


7. Lifetime membership cancelled due to not paying administrative fee of a few dollars

No warnings. No reminders. Just cancel. True story.


8. Overcharging

Sometimes people join the fitness club thinking it is all fixed rate and everyone gets the same deal.

What if I told you people selling you a package make a commission?


9. Overcrowded

If almost everybody gets off work at six in the evening in the CBD, what time do you think the most spacious gym conveniently located in a centralised place where everyone can access will be packed?

It will be that time when you are free to use it. Too.


Top photo from here

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