Copy of submission to MMail

I just submitted this to the Malay Mail, complaining about Fitness First Malaysia. To say that I am supremely annoyed is a major understatement. I delivered an ultimatum to them earlier today: I would pay only what I owe them, which is RM331 for the months I did not attend and the months I suspended, which is till this month. If they dare to charge me in December 2010 and January 2011 before my contract is up in February 2011, I will be taking them to Small Claims’ Court, as I want to terminate my account with immediate effect. They’ve broken faith with me twice (first time was with the rebate: it took my bro and me 3 months, filling up the forms TWICE and ensuring my account had too little money left for them to auto-debit before it was finally reflected in the system). I fail to see why I should allow them to leech off my account.

In March my brother and me signed up for Fitness First memberships. Due to certain factors, we decided to use my Maybank account for both our subscriptions. In September, we both submitted Update Billing forms to Fitness First Curve, with my brother’s acc being placed under his own banking account and mine being transferred to a secondary banking account meant only for recurring bills like Fitness First. As a precaution, I also submitted forms to Maybank requesting for the cancellation of Fitness First’s auto-debit on my account. As requested by Fitness First, these documents were submitted on 19 September 2010, in time for their admin to make changes.

It’s now November 4. I thought all the changes would have been made by last month. Imagine my surprise when I found RM215 missing from my account, the exact same amount for a Fitness First monthly subscription. A check with Fitness First revealed that YES, they debited the wrong account. Demands for an explanation was met with a weak, “Oh, we’ve submitted this already, don’t know why the admin did not update.” This is in addition to the counter staff knowing FULL WELL that my brother and me had already submitted the forms way in advance, at THEIR REQUEST. Yet they want us to RESUBMIT the forms, which would be quite a hassle as that means my brother and me will need to provide them with the front page of our bank books. AGAIN.

At the same time, when I mentioned that I had already requested for the payment to be stopped from the Maybank side, the girl at the counter told me that it was not something Maybank could do. Even if I, as the account holder, requested Maybank (through Maybank’s own forms) to stop the auto-debit, Maybank could not do so without permission from Fitness First.

My response to that, “So wait, you’re telling me that just because I allowed Fitness First to auto-debit my account to pay you, I have no right and control over my account to stop the payments?”

Her reply, “Yes, they cannot do that without you first informing us to stop the payments.”

To say the billing system for Fitness First sucks is a major understatement. I told them in no uncertain terms that due to this third billing fiasco, I wanted them to terminate my account with effect from December. However, I am told that I cannot do so, as I am a new member. No terminations are allowed, even though Fitness First has screwed me over with their billing system.

If Fitness First has broken faith, why should I be the one to pay for their incompetence? I’ve followed the procedure set TWICE by them, yet they can’t seem to follow it themselves. Why then, should I complete the contract when they have broken faith so badly?

So annoyed. Writing meme delayed till Sunday. :P

11 Responses

  1. Ai November 4, 2010 / 7:58 PM

    Why Malay Mail? Star gets more readers.

    • Naoko Kensaku November 4, 2010 / 8:15 PM

      Because the Star, as far as I know, doesn’t do these kinds of complaints. :D

  2. Kate Green, Zombie Shooter November 4, 2010 / 9:22 PM

    I am amazed that you can write this and still reach your daily word count.

    I also hope that you get your monies back. Fitness clubs can be a real bitch about these kind of things. Once you’ve signed up they’ll do whatever it takes to prevent you from leaving.

    • Naoko Kensaku November 4, 2010 / 10:04 PM

      Truthfully? I find joining a word war cathartic. It forces me to think of nothing but the story, and so I can forget the inanities of reality. It helps at this stage for me to have at least some kind of guide so at least I can still write with my brain half switched off. Not to mention the fact that I’m far angrier than the post suggest. Getting my wordcount was basically the best way to release all that pent up anger.

      And thank you, I hope so too.

  3. dmjewelle November 5, 2010 / 9:52 AM

    Actually if you worded it in a more professional way, they’d publish it. I’ve had a friend complain about credit card billing in the NST.

  4. Brandon January 26, 2011 / 4:42 PM

    I experienced the same story. Joined Fitness First in 2005, with the promised that the fees will always be fixed and that I have access to ALL the gyms in Malaysia. Contract was for 1 year.

    In 2010, they started to convert some clubs into Platinum Clubs — this essentially means I have less club to access. At first this is not a big problem, but after I moved (nearer to Kota Damansara) I am unable to access their “Platinum Clubs”.

    So, I decided to terminate the account. This was in September 2010. Everytime there’s a new reason why this could not be done (form incomplete, date for submission has passed, the manager is out on leave, the manager is out sick, yadda yadda yadda). After several months, I decided to call my credit card (Maybank) to directly cancel payment. Guess what? The credit card company says that I need to deal directly with Fitness First. WTF?! You are telling me that the credit card company CANNOT (or WOULD NOT) able to stop payment, despite the obvious fraud? Its been 5 months already (January 2011) and counting.

    My conclusion, Fitness First is running a well-oiled scam to fleece customers. The more I read the forums, the more I realized that I am not alone in being cheated. The other clients are probably too busy or hassled to raise this issue with Fitness First.

    Secondly, why is the credit card companies aren’t helping their customers with the stop payment requests? So, if fraud is running right under the nose, they can only say it can be canceled by the fraudster? (yea, right…like Fitness First is going to allow you to stop payment despite their cheating ways)

    I would kindly like to ask if anyone knows how to handle this kind of situation? Fitness First is outright cheating. The credit card companies are not helping. Is there an organization that can assist? How about going to court? (yea, its a hassle…I bet this is what Fitness First is counting on)

  5. Brandon January 26, 2011 / 5:09 PM

    Actually, someone just gave me an excellent idea to this problem. It may not be much help to us in the short term, but it will definitely serve as a cautionary tale for those who are yet to be “conned” by Fitness First.

    1. Get the full name, contact, and (discrete picture) of the higher Fitness First representative that you talk too.
    2. Note as close as possible what is said to you, the promises made, etc. Put it down in a point-by-point format.
    3. Publish it on your blog or the local news paper.

    For example, in my case since the club manager refuse to divulge his full name or refer me to the higher authority – please find the name and picture of Shaun Measday, the Fitness First managing director of Malaysia. (Ironically, the memberships consultants that left the Fitness First also discretely told me that it is the “unofficial” policy of Fitness First to wear down the customer as much as possible when it comes to canceling their membership so that they eventually give up – and this is stated in not-so-many-words by the managing director).

    Managing Director: Shaun Measday

    Photo can be obtained from:
    http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/4/18/business/3642516&sec=business

  6. Brandon January 26, 2011 / 5:38 PM

    Oh, by the way Naoko Kensaku, have your own (+ your brother’s) issues with Fitness First billing adequately resolved?

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