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Haggling for a Cheaper Health Club Membership

On Thursday my husband visited a health club close to his office with the full intention of becoming a member. The sales manager initially offered him a $39 monthly fee for twelve months with a $59 initiation fee. When my husband suggested a shorter contract term the manager offered $39 a month for six months with a $99 initiation fee. My husband knew he could do better than that, so he told the manager he’d have to talk it over with his wife. I was proud that he walked out and surprised that the manager didn’t try harder to get him to sign a contract.

I called the health club on my husband’s behalf the very next day. I started by asking about the monthly fees. The sales manager quoted the same fee of $39 a month. I asked if he could budge on this price and he said definitely not. So I asked about the initiation fee. He quoted the same initiation fees: $59 for twelve months or $99 for six. I told him that we would not be willing to pay that much. The manager immediately agreed to lower the initiation fee to $19 if my husband signed the contract by 5 o’clock that afternoon. He said the $19 initiation fee was presented at the health club’s monthly open house. The manager went on to say that he would claim that my husband attended that event in order to get him the discounted rate.

In a matter of minutes the manager dropped $40 from his initial offer. That seemed rather easy so I asked if my husband could join for a six month membership instead of twelve. The manager said that couldn’t be done. He went on to say that my husband would have to pay a $50 early termination fee if he chose to leave the health club after six months. I asked if there was any way the manager could budge on this and he said no. I thanked the manager and quickly called my husband.

When I talked with my husband he said that four of his coworkers had joined the gym without paying any initiation fees. He also said he was unwilling to join for a twelve month period, so I called the manager back and said my husband would not be interested in joining. I asked if the fee could be waived in it’s entirety as it had been for his coworkers and he said that was not possible and that they must have been mistaken. (Seems odd that all of his coworkers would be mistaken.) The manager did agree to a $19 initiation fee on a six month contract with no early termination fee. I also asked if my husband’s guest charge of $15 for the previous day could be subtracted from the initiation fee. The manager said he couldn’t do that but he would subtract the charge from the first month’s fees.

I called my husband back to give him the good news, but my husband was immediately turned off by what I told him. He didn’t like the way the sales managers had treated us. (He hates being yanked around by commission based sales people.) Late Friday afternoon he decided he would not join the gym despite my haggling. Unfortunately, the pricing games the managers played convinced my husband to take his business elsewhere.

When I called my husband later that evening I could hear a lot of noise in the background. When I asked where he was he told me he was at the University gym on campus. For only $3 more a month and no initiation fee he joined a much larger gym with state of the art equipment, and no early termination fees. (The gym works on a semester schedule, so he could stop attending after four months, if he decides he’s no longer interested.)

My husband was afraid I might be angry at him for choosing not to sign the contract despite my haggling. I told him I am much happier with his choice to join the University gym. I might even join the gym with him.