You have arrived at the web home of Noah Brier. This is mostly an archive of over a decade of blogging and other writing. You can read more about me or get in touch. If you want more recent writing of mine, most of that is at my BrXnd marketing x AI newsletter and Why Is This Interesting?, a daily email for the intellectually omnivorous.

January, 2005

Crunch Fitness: A Story of Terrible Customer Service

Prepare to be amazed by the shortsightedness of Crunch customer service.

Yesterday I walked into Crunch at Kips Bay, gave them my card and was informed that my membership had been canceled. Turns out my old corporate membership had finally been canceled. Not a big deal. So I tell them I'd like to renew and I walk over to membership desk to get all the info. I sat down and the membership director, Luis O. Monteagudo (his name is on the Crunch website) led me through my options. Basically I could go with a one year or a two year plan, not much different than any other gym around. I told him I was very interested and just wanted to think it over for an evening. I said I would go work out today and come in tomorrow and renew. It seemed like a completely reasonable idea to me. Luis, however, didn't agree.

He told me that I really couldn't work out today without renewing. Basically I had to throw down $799 (the price for a year membership), if I wanted to work out for the day. Before I continue, let me give a little background. I've been a member of Crunch Fitness at Kips Bay since June or July. I go to the gym roughly two or three days a week, give or take.

Anyhow, I kind of did a double take and asked him if he was for real. Turns out he was. At that point I asked him if he would really let me join another club over one day. Luis was nice enough to offer to let me pay for the day (I would guess that's $25 or so). I politely refused and asked if I could speak to a manager. He told me he was the manager of membership, so I asked to speak to his manager. Luis called over the general manager, Joe Pena. Joe was unwilling to budge, telling me that Luis was in charge of these decisions.

I reminded the two of them again that they would be losing a member (a minimum of $799 up front), over a dispute over one day. They told me there was nothing they could do. So I asked for the address of the corporate office and told them I was leaving to go join New York Sports Club. Joe gave me the address and let me leave. That address is:

Crunch Fitness
11 East 26th Street
New York, NY 10010


Anyway, I walked down to 31st street and walked into New York Sports Club on 31st between Lex and Park. I told them I'd like to join, but unfortunately the membership guy was out for lunch. I asked if I could work out for the day and it was no problem at all. I just needed to fill out a guest pass and leave my ID at the desk. Not a big deal at all. The person at the desk told me that the membership guy would be back by the time I was done with my workout.

About 45 minutes later I finished my workout (which was quite nice I might add). Turns out that NYSC on 31st has little TVs at every cardio machine. I got to watch some winter X-Games as I ellipticized away. On my way out I was told that the membership guy still hadn't gotten back, but I could just come back tomorrow and talk to him. About 30 minutes later, he called me up and apologized and asked me to come in and talk to him tomorrow, which I'll be happy to do.

So here's my question to Crunch: was it worth the day's workout to lose a member? It's not like I was Joe Schmo coming in off the street and wanted a free workout. I had been going there for six months and enjoyed being a member. I had no desire to change gyms. I really would have come in the next day and signed up, which I told Luis and Joe. But they chose to let me walk and I want to make them pay.

I'm going to post this link as far as wide as I can. I am going to send it to everyone I can think of and I'm going to ask anyone reading this to link to it to help it get exposure. When are companies going to figure out how to treat customers?

Just to finish the story, today I walked into New York Sports Club and signed up for a year-long membership. After I told the membership representative, Levi, my story, he was happy to throw in some guest passes for anyone I knew to try out New York Sports Club for a week on them. It was a pleasure to work with someone so professional and with a clear understanding of what customer service meant. I'm now a happy member of New York Sports Club and I will tell my story to anyone who wants to listen.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, since Crunch Fitness already owns the domain www.CrunchSucks.com (in preparation for bad customer service?), I decided to purchase the domain www.CrunchReallySucks.com. I'm sure I can find something fun to do with it.

If anyone has any questions I can be reached at nb@noahbrier.com

Here's a list of people who have been CC'ed on this:

Luis O. Monteagudo (Membership Director - Kips Bay)
Joe Pena (General Manager - Kips Bay)
Susan Gerson (Media Contact - Town Sports International)
John Harris (Media Contact - Bally Fitness)
Jim Solomon (President and CEO - Crunch Fitness)
Roger Harvey (COO - Crunch Fitness)
Simon Wood (CFO - Crunch Fitness)
Paul Toback (Chairman, President, Chief Executive Officer - Bally Fitness)
William Fanelli (Acting Chief Financial Officer - Bally Fitness)
John Wildman (Chief Operating Officer - Bally Fitness)
Harold Morgan (Sr. VP, Chief Admin. Officer - Bally Fitness)
Marc Bassewitz (Sr. VP, General Counsel - Bally Fitness)
Careen Winters (PR - MWW)
Epinions: Crunch
Citysearch: Crunch Fitness - Kips Bay
Dina Gomez (General Manager - New York Sports Club 31st Street)
Levi (Membership Representative - New York Sports Club 31st Street)

Update (9/21/05): On February 2, 2005 I posted my response and on September 21, 2005 I posted an update, including information about how two of the commenters below (Bob Highlander and Michael) are actually Bally's employees.

January 30, 2005
Noah Brier | Thanks for reading. | Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.