Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blog #168: A Dear John Letter

I am sending this exact text to Aspen Athletic as soon as I have time to get to a post office.

Dear Aspen Athletic Corporate Headquarters In Charge Person,
It is the year 2014, and even though you appear to happily embrace the future by having a website, a web portal for making payments and scheduling trainers, and a seemingly competent web design person, I am required to send you this letter via certified mail to tell you to please stop taking $75 per month out of my account now that my contract is over. I have employed carrier pigeons, the pony express, smoke signals, and a singing telegram on the off chance this letter will not suffice. Sorry, but the midget stripper was out of my price range.

Did you know that Time Magazine, Spotify, and McAffee Antivirus have all been sued due to deceptive auto renewal policies? In fact, most companies these days play the safe and way less shady side of giving their consumer a ridiculous amount of fair warning that their subscription will expire followed by near pleading to renew. At the very least, even big wigs like Amazon let you cancel renewal to their premium membership through their website. It's almost as if they respect their consumers' right to decide what they want to spend their money on. Not you though, Aspen. You are the renegade, the cowboy, with your devil may care ways. "of course they still want me!" you exclaim, "they would be fools to not!" 

I respect that. Really I do. Everyone's gotta make their money somehow. It's hard out there for a pimp. And had my experience with your training program been positive I MIGHT have even let it slide. We'd have laughed about it together you and I. "Oh that Aspen Fitness and it's obsession with certified mail! Sometimes I think it just likes to feel special. Lolololol!"

Unfortunately for all of us though, my experience with your training program was MUCH less than positive. I joined the gym in January of 2013. I know what you're thinking but it had NOTHING to do with a New Year's resolution. I had already lost the10lb I wanted to and was looking to take advantage of your grand opening special at the club near my place.  Your actual gym program is fine. Reasonable price no contract etc. However, you really sell that personal training thing. That free health consultation/fitness assessment whatever is genius! Quick, tell me everything you think is still wrong with me and then that you can fix it at the low price of $70/hour!  And of course I am unfortunately like a great deal of women who heard the "not toned enough not fit enough not  enough" message and sought to throw money at you to fix me and make me "enough." Rookie mistake.

The free fitness consultation included scales and measurements and fat percentages and results you promised could be passed on to the other Aspen with trainers nearby (I was Boardwalk in KC but went to Liberty until it opened). So I was in. My first session with my trainer in Liberty? He had no such information. We spent the entire session redoing those measurements which was great for my self image again to hear how "not enough" I was so thank you. Free consultation now a waste of my time as you managed to use paid time for the same thing.

After a few weeks, the Aspen near my home opened so I switched back there, again after being assured that my information would follow me. Did it? You guessed it! No! So what happened? Yet another session of starting all over. No tracking of progress from my Liberty sessions so those were essentially lost time. I liked my new trainer though and was enjoying working with her. Then, one day, I went to schedule a session with her in your very innovative web scheduling software, and she was no where to be found. I only found out by sending an email to her personal account that she had left Aspen and that my account had been given to yet another new trainer over a week before and no one bothered to call me. So, another new trainer. At least it was the same building so she would have my chart and we could track my progress, right? Well, that was partially true. The only thing we could really track was weight, because as it turned out my old trainer had done all the tape measurer measures incorrectly. Meaning now that progress was meaningless. 

And as an insult to injury... part of the agreement was that my trainer would take an interest in my nutrition and check my food log... And the only person who gave me any sort of feedback regarding my eating was my first trainer who would implore me to eat more protein.

In April 2013 my job situation changed and I realized by July that I had neither time nor additional financial resources to find this little excercise in futility. I was able to cancel my gym membership effectively but not the training. No, apparently that contract was tighter than the one Ursula put on Ariel. Not even true love's kiss could get me out of the $75/month without paying an astronomical cancellation fee, EVEN THOUGH I had received terrible service and your team didn't hold up their end. And, in trying to explain my plight to your customer service reps, I got no empathy. Just another matter of fact "you're just a dollar sign to us" attitude.
But you know what? I sucked it up. I took it like a man. And when December 2013 came I had about $400 in unused sessions that I counted as a loss because I no longer had any desire to continue on the roller coaster ride that is Aspen Training. I celebrated my last deduction. "I'M FREE!!" I exclaimed.

But I spoke too soon. Because this January, despite my contract ending, you struck again. And when I called AGAIN to seek understanding and help, I was again treated like a dollar sign. "Oh you didn't know you had to send a certified letter? Sucks to be you!" While that wasn't the actual terminology used, that was the tone implied.
So now you have made it to the end of my tragic tale. Ideally you would just give me back the money for the sessions I didn't use because of your company's shoddy way of running things. At the very least, refunding this January payment would be an okay gesture. 
Since you are so reluctant to welcome the future I imagine you won't know what I mean when I say I'm posting this letter on my blog. But maybe one of the carrier pigeons can explain it to you.

To anyone else who made it this far... Thank you. And buyer beware.


PS: seriously. Stop taking my money.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Blog #167: Things I can do

I've said before that I'm not much one for New Year's Resolutions but I do like to take some time at the beginning of each year to think of things I'd like to do in the year. However, as you'll find in post #166 that I'm a little nervous about this year. So, instead of goals or definite ideas of things I want to happen, I'm taking a softer approach.

So, without further ado - here are some things that would be cool if they happened in 2014 (but if not, don't beat yourself up over it- it's whatever.)

1. Get good at knitting for fun gifts and stress relief
2. Be intentional about maintaining relationships with those I care about.
3. Start working on my supervision hours for licensure.
4. Be open to any new adventures that present themselves.
5. Blog once a week

So, those are some things that have been on my mind for this year. Bottom's up 2014!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blog #166: An Open Letter to the New Year

Dear 2014,

Please, be gentle. 

There are those of us to whom 2013 was unkind, and we are a little gun shy about being excited for you. It's nothing personal - it will just take some cautious care to engage us in the hoping and wishing a new year typically brings. We are like puppies who have been kicked around and are hesitant to trust new humans. 

So I ask you, New Year, to handle us with care. Give us time to warm up to you. Of course you will have some difficult times. No year is without them. But could you maybe ease us into them? Just give us some time to mend the wounds from the stress, loss, frustrations, and disappointments in 2013 before you test us with your own trials. 

Don't worry, 2014. We'll come around eventually and think about all the possibilities you bring and begin to think of the good things that could come with you. But for now, we're treading lightly, looking over our shoulders and making sure you aren't holding a weapon. Once we feel safe, we're all yours.