Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Customer Service - Health and Efficiency........ or maybe not


My gym is apparently the flagship of the Esporta chain of health clubs. They're currently for sale, as they seem to be every six months or so. As a business it is one of the finest examples of bungee management I've ever seen with weekly management initiatives, management changes and management communications, indeed the only thing lacking is some management. Howsoever, although Mrs S and I are regular users of the establishment I realised a few weeks ago that neither of our lovely daughters were visiting the place often enough to justify the exorbitant amount of money I was forking out monthly to keep them on our membership. Accordingly I resolved one morning to have a chat with the nice ladies on reception and get the girls removed from my bill.
I waited until the steady stream of complainants and protesters had dwindled then approached and explained my request. " Ooooooh you need to speak with Sales" I was informed. Ok I thought (although un-sales would seem to be more appropriate).
I waited, a young lady sashayed out from the recesses of the management suite. I explained my need, she identified that this was way outside her remit, (mostly sashaying apparently) and telephoned someone else.
I waited, I love waiting, I don't get grumpy at all waiting. Another personable young lady arrived, smiling, well that made one of us. I explained my requirement, that I simply desired to remove my daughters from my membership.
"Oooooooh, you need to speak to (let's call her Sharon)".
"Do I?, do I really?"
"Oooooooh yes, I'll send her out"

I waited, I was getting better at waiting, but I noticed that my smiling skills seemed to be waning. Not all bad news though, my tutting and foot tapping were coming on apace.

The 'Customer Relationship Manager' appeared, a pleasant lass with an attention span shorter than her job title. I explained "my daughter, ChaCha, 13 years old, yes, membership, cancel, now"
Her fingers danced across the keyboard, "that's done" she announced.
"Super" I said, "and the same for her 20 year old sister please"
"I'm afraid I can't do that, you need to go and send an email to a girl who works for me and she'll do it"
"HaHa, very amusing, no seriously, please cancel her membership"
I can't, you have to write to us, she's over 18, it's head office policy"
"OK, you write the letter now and I'll sign it."
"I'm afraid you have to write or email it to us, I'm sorry"

She scribbled the e-mail address of her underling on a scrap of paper and proffered it to me as if it were the missing piece of the Da vinci code. Those of you who know me well will be, I hope both surprised and impressed to hear that I smiled, thanked her for her kind asssistance and left. I'd lost the capacity to fight, the system had ground me down.

I lost the piece of paper, no worries, 2 weeks later I received a letter, a real one, headed paper and from the General Manager of the gym no less.
This misbegotten missive informed me that since ChaCha was now 18 I would be charged an extra £75 a month for her continuing membership. Although I was a little upset that I'd apparently missed 5 years of her life it didn't stop me enjoying the irony of the line assuring me of the club's desire that I keep getting best value from my membership.

I attach the essence of my reply, I'll keep you posted...

Sir, I note with some alarm your letter informing me of your intention to increase my membership fees by £75 a month to cover the membership of my daughter ChaCha who you assert is, “now over 18 years of age”

My concerns are twofold:

1. My daughter ChaCha is 13 years old, not 18

2. In a meeting some two weeks ago with your Customer relationship manager I was informed that, as I requested, ChaCha had been removed from my account and that I would not be charged for her membership from the end of this month.

I’m sure that there is some simple explanation for what would appear to be administrative incompetence and I do look forward to receiving your clarification.

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