Open Letter to Bally Total Fitness CEO Mike Sheehan

Mike Sheehan
Bally Total Fitness
8700 W Bryn Mawr Ave.
Chicago, IL 60631
CC to Danville, CA location Manager Sian Thiessen.
June 4, 2009
Dear Mike,
I’m two years into a three year membership at Bally Total Fitness, with the Danville, CA location being my normal place to visit. The staff know me well, and to their credit most know me by name, including your manager Sian. I usually have my card but sometimes forget it. Yesterday I went in and was told I wasn’t allowed in because I didn’t have my card for the second time. Ok, I’m happy to pay the $10 for another one, would prefer to have it turn up somewhere around the house in the next day or two like it usually does, but I can go with a new one if that makes everyone happy. But not having my wallet on me, I don’t normally take it to the gym, meant after a manager check I was turned away. Hmm. Ok, well you can choose how to treat your Customers, but frankly, I think you lose big time when you do this. I let the pleasant girl on reception (Revita sp?) know that I knew it wasn’t her fault, but I’d not renew my membership when it comes up, and would no longer refer people there. I’ve referred two new members in the past year, never asking for any deal for it, just because I thought it was good to do. And as for the personal training I do from time to time, a few grand spent last year – nah. I won’t spend more money there. Yes I’ll pay the $10 for another card to work through my expiration of current membership, but that’s the extent Bally’s will see of my $$ now.
What a shame your company chooses even from the hardships of bankruptcy, to alienate Customers. I know others at the gym are quite pissed about the way it’s being done too. I’m sure Sian is hamstrung by corporate policy on this one, which is why I thought you should know directly what I think, and its impact on you. I too run a company, and know that we can’t please all of our Customers all the time and sometimes we have to disappoint some of them. However, I also know that rules that alienate good Customers always come back to bite.
There you go, I feel better now that I’ve got that off my chest. No need for a reply, I’m sure you have better things to do, but I do hope you consider the impact of turning people who are in their gym gear with a fully paid membership away from a location as your company policy.
P.S. Please do not have anyone call me for membership renewal and please place me on your do not call list. Such a solicitation after this notice, even if by accident, would be considered a breach of the do not call law and be subject to a $500 penalty on the first offence, which I will pursue. Silly rule? Yep, almost unreasonable really, but it just shows how silly we can all be with rules.

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