[Read my earlier post about Virgin Active Singapore here]
Virgin Active Singapore is definitely a ‘virgin’ in the local gym business. Before I’ve even worked out once in the gym, I’ve already decided to cancel my membership.
On 10th October, I actually brought a friend to their Open House to check out the facilities. He eventually signed up. I was pleased with what I saw, though workers were still busy putting together the shower facilities, the toilets were in a mess and the gym didn’t seem like it would be ready for an opening anytime soon.
I was impressed by the high energy levels of the staff, the freebies (fruit, snacks, drinks, massages), and the surprises (such as the roaming caricature artists who drew our portraits while we spoke with the consultants!)
Because I was really busy after the Open House, I didn’t have the time to pop by the gym. I thought I would wait a week or two, till the crowd died down before I’d go over.
8 days after the Open House visit, I get an email which says my membership fees are overdue. And this is extremely strange to me, because I had given Virgin my credit card details and all they needed to do was charge the fees to my card, and not hound me for money.
I ignored the email and 4 days later, I get a call from someone from Virgin about the same overdue fees issue. I tell her to just charge the fees to my card but she says it can’t be done, and I have to come by the gym personally to pay up. I tell her that I’m so busy, I don’t even have time to work out at Virgin’s gym, but I have to head down to pay?! Absolutely nuts!
She also couldn’t tell me which credit card apparently has given Virgin problems. I ask for the last 4 digits so I can check with the bank, and she cites some confidentiality clause, and promises to check and call me later.
She never called.
Two days’ later, I head to Virgin Active and met up with Duty Manager, Nora Neswan. I told her how disappointed I am with the gym, the staff (who don’t keep to their promises) and how I don’t want to have anything else to do with this gym.
She explained that during the signup process (via fancy tablets and all), the credit card details apparently didn’t get sent to the bank / were rejected. Hence, customers who had already supplied their credit card details had to do so once again by heading down to the gym AGAIN.
Is it the customer’s fault that Virgin’s payment process is unreliable? Why does the customer have to PAY for Virgin’s incompetence?
To make matters worse, I received yet another call today, from another of Virgin’s staff – Priya Naidu. In a rather accusatory tone, she tells me that my membership fees are overdue, and that I have to come by the gym to make payment, it is past the 7 days’ cooling off period, blah blah blah. I tell her that Nora has already processed my membership cancellation, and I am expecting a call only to tell me WHEN the refund of my initial signup fee (S$25 + GST) will be credited back to my card.
I got so exasperated speaking with Priya that my blood pressure must have shot up. She just couldn’t understand a word I was saying, it seems.
About an hour later, Nora calls to explain that customer forms got mixed up so Priya mistakenly called me. Er… OKAY?!!! (@_@)
I tell Nora that I would like to get an email from her, to put it all down in black-and-white, so that anyone else who calls me about membership fees will get a scolding and a forwarded email from me.
Thankfully, I have received the email:
As per our tele-conversation we will process the cancellation of your membership as of 24thOctober 2013. And it will take (14) working days for the refund of your activation fee. Please do not hesitate to call us if there’s any further issues.
Nora, Duty Manager – Raffles Place
During the Open House, I was blown away by the facilities. I was envisioning myself working out at the Virgin Active gym. But alas, it is not meant to be.
If you want to price your gym’s membership fees at a premium, PLEASE provide GREAT/ASTOUNDING/OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD customer service. For the level of service I have received, I wouldn’t pay S$50, not to mention the close to S$200 you are charging.
~ What GOOD I Have Derived From This Experience ~
- Delight and surprise the customer in unexpected ways: The caricature artists at the Open House really blew me away! Virgin Active really taught me a thing or two about creativity and being a fantastic host.
- The membership cancellation form looks great, with questions like “Why do you want to go?”, “Is there anything else you’d like to get off your chest?”, “We’ll miss you. Is there anything we can do to change your mind?”, etc. AMAZING membership cancellation form I’ll model for any future business I own!
- Always, always, always keep your promises. I’m glad Nora did. This is something I’ll really drum into my staff (if I own a company in future)
Even IF you are a “virgin” in this business, I’m expecting more from you. I have to, if I’m paying so much more. Does this make sense to you, Virgin Active Singapore?