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Why do used car salesmen get all the credit?

Posted by Jeremy Schultz on November 8, 2006

Big chain gym membership salespeople are just as sleazy. I’ve belonged to quite a few different gyms over the years, and I’ve always favored the mom-and-pop gym over the big chain. Unfortunately, there isn’t one near us here in Portland. I have a “gym” at work, but it’s really just a handful machines that they call a “fitness center” that the company likely uses to lower their insurance costs. Plus, it’s just not convenient. So, that lead us to a nearby Gold’s Gym. Maybe I was being naive, but we have a couple friends who work out there, and it is Portland, so maybe they’d be a little more open and friendly.

We walk in, and the gym looks pretty nice. They have us fill out an information card, which includes cheesy questions such as “how serious are you about accomplishing your fitness goals?” and “how long have you been thinking about your fitness goals?” In other words, “how hard are our salesmen going to have to lean on you?” We get a quick tour, and then are sat down to the salesman’s desk.

First thing he does is ask a bunch of questions straight from a questionnaire on his desk. When was the last time you were in shape? Would you be happy in 5 years with your current regimen? Uggh. Then, he whips out his spiral notebook and shows us a page entitled something like “Dis-Illusion the Gym Membership,” a cute little laminated pamphlet in Gold’s colors that explains that they are completely honest and open, and won’t charge any hidden costs (aside from the $69 initiation fee imposed by Gold’s, we have no control over that).

Finally, he turns to the rates. First thing I notice is a new column called “processing fee” with a charge of $100. Hmmm, must’ve missed that on the “dis-illusion” page. He explains the overall rates, and how you naturally save with a longer commitment. Then he pauses for like 2 minutes, not sure what has happening there. Made me think of a recent “Scrubs” where Zach Braff says something, then thinks to himself, “pause for effect, pause for effect, pause for effect.” I guess we were supposed to say, “$169 up front, $64/month for a year, GREAT! Sign me up now!” Then he tries the old you-weren’t-expecting-so-now-you’re-gonna-love-me technique by saying, “we had this special, I know we’re not supposed to do it anymore, but you could do $20 down and $44/month for a year.” We explain that we really just wanted to check it out and see what else is out there, and then they really start to belittle us. “When are you thinking of joining? End of this month? Ah, it’s not hot for you right now, I see, we won’t bother with the passes then.”

This just kills me. What is with the “golly gee, I just don’t know how I’ll go on if you don’t join our gym” BS sales attitude?  How does it persist? I felt pity for the people I saw in the gym. Each person sat through that in some form or another, poor souls. In 2006, I’d hope for a no BS, open, friendly kind of human interaction. But I guess that only happens at the mom-and-pops.

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