Friday, October 21, 2011

The Gold’s Gym Debacle

Before I left for Japan I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about exercise.  A weekly workout has become part of my routine and if I don’t get it, I start feeling sickly.  I’m a member of Gold’s Gym in San Francisco and to my surprise there are three Gold’s Gym locations in Osaka.  I checked with my home gym and they gave me a Travel Pass which is supposed to be good for 14 visits to any Gold’s Gym location for the duration of the travel pass.  Awesome!  This meant I wouldn’t have to put my membership on hold or anything.  Everything should just work out.

When I first arrived at the Umeda Osaka gym they were very friendly and accommodating, showing me the lockers and the equipment.  However, on my 5th work out session they told me that my card was only good for 14 days, not 14 visits.  The wording on the card itself is a little ambiguous so I thought I might have misunderstood the travel pass rules.  I asked how much it would cost to work out for the day.  It turned out to be a whopping $40 for one workout.  That’s the same price as my entire monthly membership in San Francisco.  I had already taken the subway over and was geared up to workout so I ponied up the money and stayed as long as my muscles could bear it, figuring this might be my last chance to get some good exercise.  When I got home, I promptly emailed my home gym asking them to clarify the situation.  The next day I got an email stating that I was right.  I should be able to use each gym 14 times.

When the next week rolled around I went back to the Umeda Osaka gym and attempted to explain the situation.  It’s a little difficult to explain these kinds of things with such a large language barrier.  The desk lady wasn’t sure what to do, but promised to have a manager call me.  She also let me work out for the day.  After the workout, I got a call saying that my travel pass was invalid in Japan.  They said I could come back for one more free workout (instead of giving me a refund), but that was it.  I was a little peeved.  I wasn’t necessarily mad at the Umeda, Osaka gym, but I felt like I needed some kind of definite answer.  Someone was obviously wrong, but I wasn’t sure who.  When I got home, I went to the Gold’s Gym corporate website only to find that they don’t offer any contact information.  There is no e-mail address, no phone number, but there is a feedback form.  I filled it out with my situation and sent away.  I have yet to receive a response from the feedback form.  I emailed my home gym with my updated situation.  Although I checked up again in a week, I have yet to receive another response from my home gym.

I searched around on the internet for a corporate Gold’s Gym phone number and found several complaints about how it was super hard to find.  Eventually I found a post with a couple numbers they claimed were customer service lines.  I tried a few of the numbers without success, but finally found one that connected me to an automated robot answering service.  I sat around studying, on hold for 30 minutes before they hung up.  This is a little frustrating since I have to make these calls after midnight my time.  The next day I called back and actually got through to someone.  I was transferred around a few times and finally found the right person.  I explained the situation, but they didn’t seem well informed and told me that they would have to get back to me.  Five days later, I got a response and it was real simple.  Foreign locations will only let you have four workouts.  Well at least I got a definite answer.

I figured I would try my luck at one of the other Gold’s Gym locations and went to the Nakanoshima, Osaka location.  When I got there I spoke to the desk lady and showed her my travel pass.  She told me that I didn’t have the right travel pass.  I talked it over with her and she agreed to give me the updated travel pass which is good for 14 workouts.  So it turns out that this was the problem all along.  Gold’s Gym just updated the “Travel Pass” program to a “Travel Passport” and I just needed the newer document.  They were so much more helpful at the Nakanoshima location than any other Gold’s Gym outlet and they didn’t even speak my language.  I don’t know why my home gym and the corporate office couldn’t figure this out or why it took them so long to come up with the wrong answer.  The Osaka, Umeda gym was also less than helpful, but I can chalk it up to language issues.  It just seems like such a cut and dry problem and everything was made extremely difficult until I went to the right gym.  I don’t know why it was so hard to figure this out, but I’m glad I saw it through.

Sorry for the long and somewhat boring story, but the whole thing was rather frustrating and I needed to vent.


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