LA Fitness refused to budge on its contract and in doing so made a morally bankrupt and deeply wrong decision. The company obviously forgot that its customers were real people with real feelings, individual circumstances and, perhaps unexpectedly, some real power. In only thinking about the MONEY, the company has now become a wonderful case study in the power of social media. When some sensible corporate soul finally realised the intense damage the debacle was causing the LA Fitness brand, the right decision was finally arrived at to cancel the remaining contract.
But then that really was too little, too late! LA Fitness, now a gym to avoid at all cost has helped provide that final straw that will see gym membership contracts for the whole industry being reviewed by the Office of Fair Trading. For too long gym contracts have been under the radar and now they are to get some much needed attention – it is expected that the usual consumer rights concerning circumstance change will have to be incorporated.
LA Fitness now has “enjoyed” some significantly bad media coverage, has seen its brand damaged, has paid the money back anyway and will have to improve its customer experience in the future – that’s 4-0 in my reckoning to the customer and the media and rightly so. January is the month for dieting and LA Fatness can now look forward to shedding a few pounds (in its case in terms of income) along with its remaining customers.
I write with some distrust of the gym business garnered through bitter experience. Many years ago my wife tried to cancel her gym membership after a couple of months of a twelve month contract. It turned out that her gym had factored their future income and my wife therefore owed her money to another business with no interest whatsoever in her as a customer. The new debt owner threatened legal action immediately and the only sensible outcome was to pay up and shut up and never make the same mistake again. I haven’t been a gym member in more than a decade now but I can wholeheartedly recommend running as a means to keep fit without the overhead - you read it here!