Life, Culture and Travels from the perspective of a Cuban
Extreme Fitness, Fido and Pointless Suffering
Categories: TorontoNTERO

I keep hearing the phrase “Everything is money!” and although I agree it is true in today’s world, it does not mean that I like it and that I accept it easily all the time. Since I came back to Canada I’ve come back to reality, I have landed in many new and old ways, to find out again that nothing has changed for the better.

Why is it that we start seeing as normal, things that are unfair and wrong?

A personal experience: We all get locked into contracts in order to pay less to have the latest phone. In September 2009 I agreed to sign a three-year contract with Fido ( a Canadian phone company) so I could have the iPhone 3GS. When I decided to travel abroad in August 2011 I had to continue paying $23.00 CAN a month in order to keep my plan until September 2012, otherwise, if I had decided to close the contract I would have had to pay a fine.

At the end of my contract, I called them to cancel the plan, close my account with them and get the code to unlock my phone. First thing they do is to transfer your call to a customer retention department to try to keep you, the representative pushes you to stay with them offering a better deal and even with you telling them that you do not need their services because you are out of the country, they almost predict your destiny, advising you that you could be back anytime.

This is not an unusual story for most of us and we all see it as the normal procedure. We learn to play the game. On top of that, you expect you deserve the code to unlock your phone after three years of faithfully paying your bills but they will simply tell you that you have to pay $50.00 to get the code.

Because “everything is money” they are always selling you the “sign a yearly-contract to save money deal” and because you do not want to lose the product of your hard work you end up entering their system for a long time, without knowing if your life might change in a year or less.

A recent experience: When my husband and I came back to Toronto in December we had in plan to stay here for a month and a half and to continue travelling in 2013. We bought a two-month Groupon for the Extreme Fitness gym so we could work out while we were visiting. I have always heard how they try to sell you a year membership when you purchase a Groupon.  We tried three yoga places while staying in San Francisco and no one ever bothered us. In the summer of 2011 we bought a Groupon for Wynn Fitness in Toronto and they just suggested us to get a personal trainer but that was all. Nobody pushed us to sign any papers.

This January 7, when we arrived at the Yonge and Sheppard Extreme Fitness gym to activate our Groupon, the sale representatives who took care of us suggested that if we were not sure when we were going to leave Toronto, we could have a 30-day membership trial and later decide if we wanted to continue with the gym or not. Since we were first-time customers he offered a pretty decent deal per month ($60 CAN) which we could not have taken advantage of if we used the Groupon or if we wanted to activate a plan afterwards. This membership trial came with a yearly contract that could be cancelled any time within those 30 days. We agreed to sign the papers and give it a try. Mistake!?

As I said, life gives you surprises so we have to stay in Toronto this year. Last week, we decided to register again at the University of Toronto Athletic Centre, which has been our gym for many years and it is conveniently located near to the places where we hang out and live.

Last Sunday, when we went to Extreme Fitness to cancel our membership, the person at reception advised us to come back next day before 9pm as the General Manager was not present and he was the only person allowed to cancel a membership. On Monday night, we headed to the gym again. The first thing we noticed was that as soon as we asked for the General Manager in order to cancel our membership, the girl at reception lied about the manager not being there after 8 pm. I replied saying that the previous day we were advised to come before 9pm. She checked whatever she had to “check” and soon the manager was available to meet us. I felt like if I was to meet the Prime Minister of Canada or if I was about to desert from military service.

After a few questions about why we wanted to cancel our membership, the General Manager took our forms and said that he was going to take a picture of them with his phone because he did not have a scanner there. He continued talking about our options and their amazing locations across the city. When we said we registered at the UofT gym he said he has heard that the place is not good (he actually used the word “garbage”). I started to get annoyed and any minute spent there felt like a huge waste of my time.

Finally, the manager said that everything was done, that he would send an email to the head office and the rest of the process was just internal. He gave us no cancellation form or confirmation code. We signed nothing. Before we left, my husband asked if there was a paper or a signature that we needed and he repeated that everything was done and if he was paranoid he could email him in a week. Disrespect and lack of manners ruled the conversation. I am glad we are civilized human beings who do not resolve our disagreements with a baseball bat.

When we got out of there we were not sure if this powerful-owner-of-the-world-manager lied to us or he just behaves like that on a regular basis. Later, we went online and started reading about the Extreme Fitness horrible reputation regarding membership cancellations and Groupons. Ignorance is a punishment. I could not believe the large history of comments about this subject that could have kept me away from the doors of that place. Should I be worried? They ask you for your credit card number when you register with them…

Time will tell. I do not want my thoughts to go far and beyond in advance but now I have to be alert about something that does not reserve my attention.





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