There’s a Fitness First branch in my office building Robinson’s Summit Center in Ayala, Makati. I have long wanted to join a gym, especially this branch since it’s so convenient, but my company has a corporate membership at Gold’s Gym. We get the full package at a fraction of the original price, so it’s very tempting to join Gold’s instead. The problem is that Gold’s Gym is quite far away, it’s a 30-minute walk from the office and a jeepney away from my home.
So when Deal Grocer offered a two-week voucher at Fitness First for only Php400, I jumped at the chance. I just wanted to see and try out the gym. But it was not a very good experience. The first day I got there, a sales lady let me sit down and immediately started hawking their packages.
She spent an hour of my time persuading me to get their package.
Her first offer to me was this:
Monthly Due – 3800
Joining Fee – 4000
Admin Fee – 2100
BodyFirst (Optional) – 1885
Total – 11,785
Can you believe she wanted Php11,785 upfront for the first month of membership?!? What the hell? Why is there a joining fee PLUS an admin fee? And the BodyFirst program? It just means you get 3 hours’ worth of personal training (no, this is not a per month service, this is just a one-time thing plus 3 books on fitness). Crazy! She couldn’t even explain to me the difference between the joining and the admin fees. Or why they were so big.
I would have high-tailed it outta there if they wanted me to pay 11,000 freakin’ pesos for a month’s worth of membership. Did I mention a month at Gold’s for me was only 1,100??? That’s including the one-time personal training sessions!
Then the sales lady said that since it was my first time visiting their club, they had a “First Visit Promo” which means they would waive my joining fee, and the admin fee would go down to 1500 only, and they would offer me an ongoing 2,300 monthly due. So, total I would pay initially would be 3,800 only. But I had to pay via credit card. Uh-oh. I had heard about this scam. FF would dramatically cut down fees so they get access to your credit card, but once they had that data, they were gonna charge you forever. Even if you asked to “freeze” or terminate your contract after term expiration, it wouldn’t happen. They were just gonna charge you every month until you terminate your credit card just so the charges will stop – and that’s if your credit card company will let you terminate given you have pending charges.
So I immediately said NO. Not charging my credit card. Then she said, what about your parents? Don’t they have credit cards? Or sisters/brothers/relatives? I looked at her weirdly and just said NO. Then she mentioned I had arrived with a friend (my officemate who works out at FF and I coincidentally arrived in the same elevator so she saw us talking). Why couldn’t I use *his* credit card, then? Was she high?!? Why would I use someone else’s credit card if I didn’t want to risk my own? I told her NO, using a credit card is not an option for me.
So the third option was cash. She told me joining fee would be 1,000, admin fee would be 1,500, monthly fee would be 2,900, plus 387 for the April fee. What April fee?? She said something like, oh because there are still a few days left in April so you have to pay for that. And I’m so confused because I have a voucher from DealGrocer. I am *fully paid* for the month of April. And she says, yes yes we already discounted your April fee because of your DealGrocer voucher or else it would be much bigger. At this point I just wanted to throttle her because I had no idea what she was talking about. Here I am fully paid for April and she’s trying to make me think I need to pay more and I should even be grateful they made the fees lower. Hello!!!
I said NO, isn’t there a way you can lower the fees? It boiled down to a total of 5,787 for the first month by the way. It just sounds so horribly wrong to pay for April when I am *already* paid for April. I wanted her to remove the 387 fee. I was even ready to think about that crazy monthly of 2,900!!!
But she wouldn’t, and even referred me to her boss, who tried all the same tactics she did, except the boss looked a bit more taray and tried to persuade me more strongly. Unfortunately for her, I don’t like mataray people and she turned me off more than the first sales lady. I told her the same thing, can’t you lower the fees? I told her that it’s not like I don’t have options. I have Gold’s Gym which is a lot cheaper, so they should offer me a more competitive package. And she just kept repeating bullshit about how I need to value my fitness, and this is the price of fitness and convenience, blah blah. Finally, because it seemed like I wasn’t budging, she said OK, I’ll try to talk to my boss about this. (Another boss?? How many do I have to go through with?) But can you give a downpayment of 500?
At this point, I raised my eyebrow and just said my favorite word of the hour, NO. What the eff? I have to pay 500 just so she can talk to her boss? To me it seemed like a bribe.
She gave up and returned me to the original sales lady and by that time I had spent too much time in the gym so I decided to activate my membership the following day. (It went well and they didn’t bug me all that much anymore, they just let me work out, which is all I wanted in the first place.)
What crazy fees, huh? No wonder so many people are turned off by Fitness First. I’m still hoping they call me and offer a better package, but I’m not holding my breath.