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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

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
. 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

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
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