Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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My Crunch Response

About a day after I sent out my big Crunch complaint email, I recieved an apology from the COO of the company, Roger Harvey. In the email he apologized for the experience, asked me to not judge Crunch Fitness after one bad experience and offered me a free month to come back and try it out (after informing me I could cancel my NYSC membership within three days with no penalty). Mr. Harvey also informed me that it was Crunch policy to not allow anyone but members in good standing to work out at the club.

Now, for everyone’s viewing pleasure, I present my response to Mr. Harvey and crunch:

First, thank you for replying to me in such a timely and thoughtful
fashion. I really do appreciate that.

Do you have any plans to change the policy that “only members in good
standing, non-members that have paid a guest fee, or non-members with
a valid guest pass are allowed entrance to the facility?”

My problem with this policy, as I understand it, is that there is no
opportunity for the person at the desk to use any judgment. While I
appreciate the fact that you can’t just have anyone running around the
club without paying, it was amazing to me that after being a customer
for six months I couldn’t be given any leeway. As a side note, this
was not the message I was getting from Luis and Joe. In fact when Joe
came over he said to me that it was Luis’ decision.

What is more, I was not informed during my last visit that my
membership would be ending. Therefore, I had no way of knowing, when
I walked in on Saturday, that I would not be able to work out. Had I
been informed that my membership was ending, I most likely would have
gotten the info while I was still a member, worked out, and come back
next time to sign up with my new plan. I must admit that what made me
so upset that day was that I just wanted to go to the gym and never
imagined I would run into so much difficulty doing so.

In the end, I guess it bothers me that you have a customer service
policy that doesn’t allow your employees to make your customers happy.
It would not have cost Crunch, Luis or Joe anything to let me work out
that day. However, the potential loss is significant — measured in my
ability to communicate my story. On my website, the head of HR and
Customer Service for Harman (the audio company that makes JBL and
Infinity) left this comment outlining how to compute the value of a
happy customer. I found it very interesting and thought you might as

There’s a way to compute the value of a Happy Customer:

Direct Value
A. Average retail price of product
B. Average customer revenue per purchase
C. Number of purchases per lifetime
D. Lifetime Customer Value (B*C)

Indirect Value
E. Customer tells 5 people (D*5)
F. Revenue from referrals (25% of E)

At Harman Consumer Group, we are very attuned to this formula. The
interesting thing is that in our business, it usually costs us to make
the customer happy. In your case, Noah, it WOULD NOT HAVE COST CRUNCH
ANYTHING to let you work out.

I am increasingly insistent on good customer service and I certainly
would not ever entertain going to NY Crunch, for myself or my
employees. They certainly don’t understand customer service.

Elenor Denker
VP, HR and Customer Service
Harman Consumer Group

You can read the other comments or comment yourself
at: https://www.noahbrier.com/archives/2005/01/crunch_fitness.html

I also would like your permission to post your letter (taking out your
email and phone number, of course). I think it’s important to let
people know that you did respond to me in such a thoughtful fashion.

While I very much appreciate the offer of a free month, I would like
to see bigger changes made in the way you treat both your customers
and employees, before I decided to enter a Crunch Fitness again.

Best regards,
Noah Brier

February 2, 2005