Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Urban Active Gym in New Albany, a lesson in how not to do business

I hesitate to post about our negative experience at the Urban Active gym in New Albany because I really wanted to join there and start enjoying the club like atmosphere they offer. Aunt Edye and Uncle Marc are members there and they LOVE it, so I figured that we could get a family membership there as a gift for the entire family this holiday season.

This is one of those mega gyms with all types of services, trainers, classes and state of the art equipment.This is a fancy fitness center not some local sweat shop. The club offers child care in a playroom like setting, and is close enough to our house that we could go there every afternoon when school is out and I could work-out while the four kids were supervised by the staff. I was totally chomping at the bit to take the tour and get familiar with the place so that we could be using the facilities now that the weather makes it harder to burn energy outdoors. I need a bad weather back up plan.

We schlepped all the kids up to the Urban Active location today to take advantage of a guest pass and learn more about the club. Can you imagine how totally pissed off Jeff and I were when the guy at the front desk dicked us around? He did not have any guest passes for us, he said that the membership person was busy with two other people waiting ahead of us, and he informed us that the playroom for kids did not open until 3:00 on Sunday. WTF? We basically gave them the chance to WOW us and they did the exact opposite. We left with a really bad first impression.

Jeff and I are sometimes more critical of customer service issues because we are in sales and marketing and the two are so closely related- we are keenly aware of how NOT to do business and expect to be impressed with places like this- instead, today, we were left completely unimpressed. The experience today was a model for how to lose business.

We took time to dress, load, and arrive at their front desk on a Sunday morning and it was as if we did not matter at all. Someone please tell me why in this economy a pay to play gym is turning customers away. What a horrible first impression. If I cared enough to voice my disgust I would call the manager and let him/her know, but honestly, I would rather blog about the experience and move along. I do not have the time or energy to let them know what I would do differently. Would my call make a difference? Doubtful.

When I got home I looked at the Urban Active website and sure enough the very limited child care playroom hours are:

Mon - Thurs: 9a - 12p and 5p - 8:30p
Fri: 9a - 12p and 5p - 8p
Sat: 8:30a - 12:30p
Sun: 3-6p

so even if we joined I could not take advantage of the fitness club on weekday afternoons after lunchtime or on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings unless I pay for a babysitter at home, because their child care center is closed more than it is open. How bizarre.

In my on line search for information I stumbled upon some horrible reviews and was wondering if the management team there even knows how much negative publicity they have on line?


The cheat you, EVEN IF YOU PAY UP FRONT.‎
By Jeanne - Nov 16, 2009‎
The gym facility itself is great, definitely in line with other places like Lifetime fitness. The front desk and childcare staff are also great, although the childcare hours are few and far between. However, the sales staff and management are awful, in the sense that they are definitely out to get your money in any way possible. I paid up front, because I could tell they were slimy in their sales pitch (lied to me and were angry when I pointed it out). Then when I came into the gym several months later, they told me I couldn't work out unless I paid $35. When I inquired as to what the charge was for, I was informed I had failed to pay a $15 "club improvement" fee and they were charging me a $25 late fee in addition. I was told when I signed up there would be no additional charges (should have known better than to believe that after the other), and they claimed to have sent me a letter informing me of the charge, but I never received one, and doubt that it was sent. They eventually dropped the charge, but not without a huge hassle. I'm guessing most people just paid so they wouldn't have to deal with it, and that is what they were hoping. They sure didn't get anything for there money, either, because nothing about the club has been "improved," except maybe their bank account. When my time is up here, I'm definitely going back to Lifetime. Their parking situation might suck, but at least they're not crooks.

By Marko - Nov 8, 2009‎
Agree with other reviews! Be careful...they sign you up for automatic renewal for both memberships and personal training agreements!!!!! I have been trying to cancel my PT agreement for 3 months, especially since I haven't even used the original number of sessions I purchased. They have sleazy, unprofessional, and dishonest business practices. Needless to say, I will NOT be renewing either my gym or PT memberships once I finally extricate myself from them...and I spent 94 minutes on hold once with the business office! Another scummy trick...don't mail any letters to the gym directly, they will be returned with no forwarding address, despite instructions on your contract to do so. Send to business office certified!‎

By roxytiller - Nov 5, 2009‎
The people at the club have always been very nice but when it comes to trying to cancel any membership whether its the gym membership or personal training one good luck! Their corporate office is horrible and they don't care what you have to say. I was on hold for over 50 minutes. And yeah I paid for a 2 year membership up front too and also did the personal training so the lady that wants to say that the only ones complaining are the ones that try to cancel a membership yeah good luck when it comes to cancelling yours if and when you do it. The lady from the corporate office even said that even when you write a 30 day letter to cancel the membership it might not go in effect for 60 days so they could potentially take 2 more months out. I'm telling you READ EVERYTHING VERY CAREFULLY because they are a very greedy corporation that will take every penny they can get

By cutepinkdaisy - May 18, 2009‎
I wanted to cancel my membership after my year contract was up. I kept calling and was told only the direct manager could cancel my membership for me. He was never available and NEVER returned my calls. It took 2 months and a call to their corporate office (which I was on hold for over 20 minutes) to get my membership cancelled......jerks!‎

hated it‎
By rhino - Dec 29, 2008‎
The childcare center is way too small and the staff are all about 19. The have no towel service. The pool is too small. This place costs as much as Lifetime Fitness and it is a joke and the complete opposite of Lifetime. The only plus was that I got my money back when I hated it!‎

Okay, so I guess my initial impression was not too far off. I am posting this today because I bet there will be some moms like me who google search the child care hours and are considering becoming members of this Urban Active Fitness, and will need the scoop on how they do business. We can't all be customer service all stars but it would not hurt to try. Hmmmm, now how do we let Marc and Edye know what happened to us without making them feel obligated to report the situation to the big whigs there? Ahhh, I know, I know, I will let Edye read this on the blog and share it with Marc. That will do it. Ha, I am passive aggressive now.


loren said...

Wow, Helene... that is CUH-RAPPY!!! Our gym has pretty limited hours, too, but it still works for us, just because they're closed while the girls happen to be in school anyway.

I hope people read this and at the very least enter into an agreement with their eyes open.

Nothing shocks me anymore... said...

Glad to hear that you found all this out before you signed and got screwed. Those childcare hours are NOT family friendly. Sounds like my local YMCA

Nothing shocks me anymore... said...

Glad to hear that you found all this out before you signed and got screwed. Those childcare hours are NOT family friendly. Sounds like my local YMCA

Sabrina said...

Yep, we have a gym like that here too. I went through the same process you did, but on a TUESDAY afternoon! Not only did their "Child Care" hours not fit (same hrs) the room was dirty-looking. I also saw several sick kids in there, and nobody cleaning the toys, or any lysol in sight! YUCK! We used to belong to our local YMCA and had the same problem. I wanted to go while my son was in preschool (afternoon) and the child care wasn't open there either! It's bizarre!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you're making an execuse for not joining because you really don't want to workout anyway.

Helene Eichenwald Slutsky said...


I don't need excuses- with comments from ordinary folks about being overcharged, and without child care I will not work out there or even just hang out pretending to work out.

If I wanted to fake it I could do that at home for FREE

New Albany Mike said...

I found your blog from a google search actually. I got a really bad feeling about the membership plans so I did not join on the spot until I came home, googled them and learned more than enough. They added a ton of upchsrges beyond just monthly dues - like a club improvement fee. Sorry but if the club makes improvements shouldn't that be paid for by the club and the owners who profit from the revenues?

Nice blog post. Now when the mgmt teams sees this they can count two families that got smart and said no to their poor service practices.

stung by urban active said...

I wish I would have seen this before I joined. We joined only to have them drop all of their classes/daycare totally and then took money out of our account without permission. When we call corporate they tell us we have to speak with our manager. When we talk to him he tells us we must talk to corporate. Lying cheats is all they are.

Mohamed said...

Thank you for the blog and to all others that commented on this blog. I called them and scheduled an appointment and was ready to sign up before i read your comments.I always like to read some reviews but this was a clear cut message. Horrible people! i wonder how they are in business! Well, they at least lost a potential customer through this blog.
thanks again for saving me time and money!

Marina Sadikov said...

My kids and I were planning on going to visit Urban Active in New Albany tomorrow but after reading these reviews we will definitely stear clear! Lifetime Fitness here we come!! Thanks everyone for saving me a trip!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog and lot of other reviews on other websites. I wish we all can use our experiences at businesses like this and shut them down. I was thinking of joining this facility and I live next door to this UA facility at the Esates of New Albany. NOw I dont think I will join UA any where.

Anonymous said...

From a previous employer EVERYTHING you have complained about is true! They screw you any way possible and all they care about is your money, I got busted for caring more about clients getting screwed than being a "team player"

Anonymous said...

I've been a member at Lifestyle for about 4 years. I have no gripes about it--it's very nice and comfortable with a great staff, but it's a little limited in its equipment and i'm beginning to get a bit bored...
I took the tour yesterday of the New Albany UA. The salesperson seemed to be in a hurry and not very thorough. She tried to close me on the sale (they do have a month to month option) but when I asked to take home a copy of the contract, she told me she didn't have any to give me (odd). When I told her I needed to think about it, she offered me a free 2-day pass to try out the club--great!

So today I returned to workout. I have 2 boys (4 years and 9 months) and took them with me. The childcare hours are about the same as Lifestyle's, but the kids' area is much larger. Upon entering, I'd forgotten where the childcare facilities were located (due to the brevity of my tour) and began to go the wrong way. The manager (whom I'd just met the previous day) instead of offering me assistance, snapped at me and then told me how to get to the playroom. Upon enterng the childcare area,I wasn't greeted kindly. I found the staff to be short and rude.

I'm no stranger to a gym, but in this place I felt like a stranger in a strange land. The equipment was new and beautiful, but some of it I was clueless how to use. I'd gotten no instruction either--I hope they have some sort of new member orientation. But I did really like all of the ammenities--especially the ladies only workout room and the sauna.

I made a point to talk to one of the members to ask how he liked the club. The man I spoke with had been a member for 2 years and had no complaints...

After my workout, I returned to the playroom to pick up my boys. The baby was crying hysterically (which is really uncommon). The childcare provider scolded me that she'd try to call me (how?) to tell me the baby had been crying for awhile. Well when she handed him to me I could see why--he had a huge scrape on his forehead. My 4 year old
had a blast in the play area though and didn't want to leave. Before leaving, I asked for a copy of the childcare
policies--it took them awhile to locate a copy for me, but
they finally found one. No one wished me a good day or even said good-bye.

Everyone who works there seems to be miserable. I'm still on the fence about leaving Lifestyle and joining UA. The facilities at UA are much better, but the people at Lifestyle are much nicer, friendlier and happier. What to do; what to do!?!?!?!?

Lynn said...

I just realized the monlthly child care charge I cancelled 5 months ago was still coming out of one of our charge cards! UGH my own fault for not tracking my cards better, but not surprised from this company. It's a shame that their customer service/billing department is so horrible! When our membership is up in a few months we wont ever rejoin!
I googled urban active child care and your blog popped up! How very cool!!
Lynn Nichols

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