For the love of freebies

Nathalie Bonney's picture

After falling out of love with my old gym, mainly due to its £76.95 a month membership, I embarked on a spot of gym–surfing over the summer. With voucher websites and the gyms themselves offering plenty of free trials I could delay tying myself into a long contract and try out a few different gyms with the view of potentially joining one later in the year.

Once again though, LA Fitness found itself in my bad books (see previous blog to run or not to run) but for very different reasons. While my former gym in sleepy Northwood suburbia riled me with its lack of communication or ability to handle queries with anything approaching urgency, LA Fitness Leadenhall wouldn’t leave me alone: call it the Yorkshire Terrier to Northwood’s dopey Dulux dog. 

Seeing a free five–day pass for LA Fitness on uk I clicked on the link “download your free pass here”. Instead of getting a voucher straightaway I had to fill in some contact details and even after that I still didn’t get a free pass, I got an email telling me to go into the club to collect it instead. The super keen sales team must have then waited all of five minutes before ringing my mobile number to chat to me about my “interest in joining the gym.” Huh? I just want my freebie. 

Undeterred, the following week I went along, gym bag in tow, to collect my free pass. Obviously it wasn’t that simple. Helpful Alison gave me a quick tour (“there’s the gym,” accompanied by a finger gesturing to the gym that is already right before my eyes, “and the changing rooms and pool are just through here.”) She then took me into her office/pressure chamber to chat/force me to sign up to one of their great  membership deals.

At this point a workout was superfluous thanks to Alison’s guerilla membership sales tactics. A small voice managed to get out “I’d just like to see what the gym’s like first.” And she let me go – for now. In a cunning move she still hadn’t given me my free pass, meaning I’d have to brave her sales assault again if I wanted my five–day pass. 

Day two: despite listening to ‘Eye of The Tiger’, Rocky style and repeatedly telling myself I would not cave in to Alison’s barrage of sales gobbledy gook, I nearly did. I could tell she was getting fed up with me: how dare I presume my FREE pass was free? It was merely a marketing ploy to lure in fresh blood then put on the hard sell until they relent and sign up to a 24-month contract. Ker–ching!

After yet more attempts to get some money out of me, she finally realised I wasn’t going to budge and let me go. Although she only (stroppily) gave me my free pass when I asked her to. 

In a similar scenario, a new budget gym Fit4less has opened close to Tower Hill. Again I clicked on the link ( I know, what a fool) for my free gym membership pass and instead of getting said free pass got a barrage of emails, texts and phone calls, in response to my “gym membership enquiry”. Seriously.

Joining a gym close to my work would be handy but a part of me just doesn’t want to let Alison and co win. I appreciate these freebies aren’t handed out for the sake of it but are used to attract new custom. However, I think the sales teams are so aggressive in their approach that they actually put off people who may genuinely be interested in joining. 



Your Comments

I had something similar from Fitmess First where I had a phone call within half an hour of clcking on the the free one day pass! I explained I was off sick with a virus and told them to ring back in 2 weeks.I was then bombarded with 5 phone calles within the following 3 days. Needless to say I did not answer my phone & they have now given up

Wasn't there an episode of "Friends" where they had difficulty getting out of an expensive gym membership - seems it's a regular problem all over!

I would like to complaint about the customer service I had experienced at 19:00 on 18/10/2010 at the Esporta Wandsworth.

I arrived with a British Gas voucher which allows two adults to enter for a free swim. Initially I was accepted by one member of staff, but a moment later a blond lady, who called herself a manager refused the entry for two (for one of my friend and me), saying that each person must have a separate voucher.
She was wrong, as the British Gas website was stated the opposite. I tried to explained, but she was very rude and behaved bossy and patronizing. I raise my voice, however I was not using a bad language in any way, and I asked to see a Senior Manager. During my conversation with this person, I have presented a website were clearly was stated “two adults”. However he also refused the entry saying that his team told that I was using a foul language in reception area, which was totally untrue.

I was shocked to learn such a low corporate culture, when one member of staff instead of admitting her fault regarding the number of adults on one voucher, simply made her story about a customer using a foul language to a senior member.

I truly believe that this team must be ashamed of themselves, as it was very low for them to act in front of a potential new customer this way. My first visit to this club was a failure and I have witnessed the worse customer service ever there.

Even if I was wrong (for an example, but I was not) – I was your guest, who was planning to have a good time and had not expected to be treated as garbage, but that was exactly I have left with.

Thank you for a ruined evening, and please give your team a better training on how to cover each other without shameless lies in front of the customers!

Its not only Freebies; beware too of some Competition Sites that once they have your name and address you are flooded with unwanted emails! One of these has a so called un-subscribe link that doesnt function so it's impossible to stop them.

As a pensioner ,what do you mean by homepage ?.

Local council facilities are good value for money and they often offer dixcounts to certain age groups or the armed force etc.

This article mirrors my own experience with LA Fitness, however I was distracted by the following errors:

The verb is 'cave in', hence 'cave in to', not 'cave into', and the expression is the 'hard sell', not the 'hard sale'.

Might I suggest you ask someone to proofread your work, rather than proofreading it yourself?

Best Regards,

My friend, Sid, had a very similar experience.

Unfortunately, the high pressure sales tactics almost forced him into a nervous breakdown, and he was signed up to lots of plans.
He never got a free pass as the "Gym Pass Manager" was on long-term absence.

Luckily for him, one of the staff forged his name on a premium scheme, and he spotted it.

They were persuaded to release him from all the memberships and refund his money, in return for not pressing charges for fraud.

He now uses the local authority gym, which is very cheap, and doesn't have sales tactics; admittedly, it doesn't have all the equipment he wanted, but it's also stress-free.

LA Fitness - Belfast
Had the talk , done workout had to wait to see person again at end to get free 3 day pass. waitied about 15+mins was asking reception for pass as i couldn't wait any longer and finally girl came. As usual great deal had to be taken today only, said i was checking out gyms and would wait and see. NEVER got free 3 day pass!!

i had problem with fitness first too, (sorry for hijacking La fitness spot)
got lured in by the dodgy sales guy saying my wife could use the gym too,
he wouldn't give me my card before the 10 day money back period, i did some research and smelt a rat, phoned head office and they had a wrong , date of birth, email adress, and start date.

she canceled it at head office, when i phoned the dodgy guy he said your membership has not been canceled and you cant get your £50 back (the little swine) any way took me 3 weeks but i got my £50 deposit back,

had to phone head office to stop receiving phone calls and annoying text messages

STAY AWAY FROM fitness first
especially Canley Coventry.

Well, my advise for everyone seeking up to date freebies is to go on because I have tried the rest of the UK freebies websites and they have always old offers and deals, which sucks :( is their facebook link which you can like so they keep you updated on any relevant free samples or competitions over the UK

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