Thursday, June 3, 2010

On Hold (Richmond, VA)

Before taking off for Mexico, I've got to put my gym membership on hold for two months. I stop by the desk and ask if I can inform them right then and there. "No," I'm told. "You've got to call the number of (let's just call the company:) MotionSick. They handle that for us."

I spend half an hour on the phone the next day, waiting to speak to a MotionSick representative. When I finally do reach a human being, he informs me that I have to communicate directly with the gym. "They told me to call you," I tell him. "They gave me this little card with the company name and number on it yesterday."

"Well, they just changed their procedures and, as of today, we no longer handle holds."

I call the gym and am told to call "Laura" (let's call her that because that's her actual name), the general manager, who'll be back in a bit. I call her four times. The last time, I leave a detailed message: "I want to put my membership on hold for July and August," I say. I know that I have to do so a month in advance, so I'm adamant about the message reaching her, even if I don't.

Laura's message is on my answering machine when I arrive home. "Call me!" she chirps.

I call her. She's unavailable. I leave a message.

Laura returns my call.

"I'll be out of town for a month and a half," I tell her, "so I'd like to put my membership on hold for two months."

"We'll need to see proof of your new residence," she replies.

"I'm not moving to a new residence; I'm going on vacation," I tell her.

"We'll need proof of your hotel reservation," she says.

"I don't have any hotel reservations. I'm not even sure where I'll be when, but I'll be staying with friends and traveling around the country," I say. "I've been doing this every year since I joined the gym, and I've never been asked for anything like this before."

"It's a new policy. Plus you have to pay $25.00."

"What???? I've never heard of this and haven't received anything in writing about it. There was nothing in the contract I recently signed..."

"It's not in the contract and we didn't notify anyone."

"This is ridiculous!" I am shouting now.

My husband, overhearing my rising voice and growing frustration, is saying, "Tell them you're canceling your membership!"

"Well, we need proof of your being out of the country," Laura says.

"I don't have an address, but I can bring a copy of my electronic plane ticket," I suggest.

"We can't accept that. We need proof of where you're staying," she chirps.


I ask to speak to the gym's owner. She is not available. "I'll discuss this with her," Laura says. Just what I need!

I wait a day and don't hear anything, so I call (let's call her) Naomi (because that's her name). I want to request a meeting, but the person who answers the phone says that Naomi is unavailable. I can leave a message, she tells me, "or you can speak to Laura."

I'm still waiting for a call back.