Apparently, absolutely nothing ESPECIALLY in terms of customer service.

As we become more and more of a digital culture and more of our purchasing goes online, I’ve often been challenged with accountability. Companies hide behind their privacy policies and terms of service. They have their teams of Lawyers making sure that the fine print “gets ya.” Even at a customer service level, if you take a look at many larger corporations even before you call customer support, you’re left to question if it’s worth your time. It’s such a pain just to deal with someone and then be pushed up the ladder to to tier two or whatever it is.

Now, I should note that I’m not a complainer. In fact, I’m very much a “suck it up” kinda guy but as I grow older I’m becoming less patient with companies taking my hard earned money and not standing behind the product or value they indicated it would provide. Customer service is important and I would gladly pay more for a product or service with good customer support.

Goodlife Fitness fails miserably in customer service

I recently had an experience with Goodlife Fitness which was absolutely awful. I’ve been a member for more than 15+ years at 6 different Goodlife Fitness clubs and have spent thousands of dollars in membership fees, etc. I’d also like to think that I’ve been able to persuade others in general conversation why I enjoyed Goodlife so much.

However, my most recent membership wasn’t working out (due to parking restraints, construction, congestion and other obstacles beyond my control) so I chose to opt out after a few months. Of course, when cancelling, Goodlife was quick to point out that I had signed a contract and had to pay $100 in cancellation fees.

The very principal of needing to cancel a membership for reasons beyond my control leads me to question if we should both part ways and wait until next time.  No,  Goodlife was adamant that their policies are clear about cancellations. Now, I’m a big boy and can recognize that, yes, I did sign the contract and I was obligated to pay the cancellation or “early buy-out” fee.  But come on,  this is a two way street. I chose to play the “loyalty card” and was told the following:

We appreciate your previous memberships and previous and current loyalty to GoodLife Fitness. We are pleased you have enjoyed our many services and clubs in the past. We will not however base our decision to uphold policies and contracts on previous loyalties and memberships. A new agreement was signed and entered into on November 20th, 2011. All terms and conditions are outlined in writing and we must uphold our policies and contracts equally across our entire membership base.

Basically, “we’re glad you gave us your money, but we don’t value loyalty with ANY members.”

So in the end,  I paid the $100, not much I could do. That said, that $100 decision on their part has caused me to refrain from ever becoming a member of Goodlife Fitness again. Considering that we’re an active family of four, the costs would have likely added up to tens of thousands of dollars. Today? No. Tomorrow, not likely,  but considering membership at 6 locations and the fact that this particular club has relocated 3 times, it’s reasonable to expect that future membership would be very likely.

But that will not be the case.

Now, before this turns into too much of a rant on Goodlife, I do want to outline the EXCEPTIONAL experience I had with – WOW!   just… WOW!

A few weeks ago,  we decided to take the kids to Niagara Falls. We decided to try to see if we could find some deals. First time customer and sure enough, there was a pretty good deal for a family waterpark pass, a bunch of other entertainment and a night at the Sheraton on the falls. The price was good and the “jaunt” looked like fun.

Well, not going to get into details, but in the end we did a face a number of challenges with our stay with some entertainment problems including height and weight restrictions, a cancelled show and another feature that was only available during the time when we weren’t there. After dealing with the Hotel and getting nowhere (It was mainly their offering and partnerships creating the challenges),  the last attempt was to contact in a final attempt for a better outcome. Very quickly, I heard back from customer service and it was a real person.  Not a “canned” response or copy/paste from a database. The customer support was compassionate and made me feel valued. After explaining the situation, I received this back from

I am so so sorry for how your Jaunt to Niagara Falls went. I am also incredibly sorry for your children and how disappointed they must have been not being able to go on any of the rides or see any of the shows we promised they would be able to. I feel so badly when a customer has done their due diligence as well in terms of doing research into seeing whether a vacation is the right fit for them and their experience still goes awry. Regardless of the hotel’s response, I have sent off your complaint to my management team. I thank you for YOUR patience as I work on getting you the best resolution. I would like to apologize to your family for your experience, once again. I will follow up by early next week, if only to let you know where the investigation stands, and will have a decision for you soon. Thank you for letting us improve your experience for you,

There’s one line in that response that floored me. “Thank you for letting us improve your experience for you.” Who says that? Companies that made a difference and value their customers – that’s who!

No less than 10 days go by and I hear from the team again. I didn’t need to follow-up, they were proactive to get in touch with me.

I am so sorry about the delay in my response. My manager has asked me to give you a site credit in order to compensate you for the unfortunate experience that you had. This credit will never expire so that you do not have to feel pressure in using it at any time. In addition, you have also helped us update our merchant policy so that we address specific concerns such as you ran into, so that we have the information regarding weight and height guidelines for immediate viewing for our potential customers.  I hope that helps. If you have any other questions, please give us a call.

This, people is the definition of customer service and how to retain loyalty. They listened,  the made it right and they updated their merchant policy. Well done! I can only use what I’ve learned from this experience and apply it to my business.

Goodlife = FAIL. = WIN!