Jewish Olympics

Is LA Fitness’ Sales Pitch Kosher? - BlabbermouthAZ

Here’s a crazy story from my experience today at LA Fitness. I won’t even go into the convoluted reason they had me cancel my membership and sign up again (annoying), but this led to meeting Sales Manager and Sales Guy (we’ll call them that the purpose of this post).

When I met Sales Manager a couple of days ago with my girlfriend, he informed me that I have a Jewish last name and then proceeded to bid me “Shalom.”

They couldn’t sign me up that day (again, annoying), so I returned today to meet with Sales Guy. As we’re sitting there, Sales Manager sits down next to me, and begins to unload more crazy.

Sales Manager: Hey, Sales Guy, did you know that Jeff is Jewish?
Sales Guy
: (Blank stare)
Jeff
: Um…. Okay.
Sales Manager
: That means we need to pick his brain on how to make money.
Sales Guy
: (Panic stare)
Jeff
: Ummmm… that’s a little offensive.
Sales Manager
: No, it’s okay. I’m Dominican. People call me Mexican all the time.
Jeff & Sales Guy
: (Confused and awkward silence).
Sales Manager
: I’m Christian. But, at my church we believe in Israel. (Pause) Are you militant?
Jeff
: Ummmmmm…. No, not really.

This small snippet of a larger exchange begs a couple of questions. First, are there Christians who don’t believe in Israel? Great! First Santa, then the Jewish OlympicsEaster Bunny, now this? Where do they believe Natalie Portman is really from?

But, the bigger question is: How does a business combat stories like this that will lead to negative word of mouth? (The obvious answer is prevention, but, hey, things happen).

Do I think Sales Manager meant to be offensive? No. (As Sales Guy explained when he took me aside and apologized, “That’s just how he is.”)

Will this prevent me from remaining a member? No. (But only because I play racquetball with friends there).

But, here’s the big thing: Will I tell this story EVERY TIME someone mentions LA Fitness in my presence? Absolutely! Will many of the people who hear it retell it to their friends? You bet.

So, here’s what LA Fitness should do to try to fix it.

First, publicly make it right.
This is 2010, when most of us have a story to tell, we tell it online where countless of our friends and their friends can read it (or watch it or listen to it). Hopefully, a large brand like LA Fitness monitors online mentions of their brand (via Google, Twitter search, or pay for a social media listening service like Radian6). Once aware of this blog post or Tweets about it, they should use those venues to comment, apologize (if that’s what they feel this merits), and find a way to make it right. (LA Fitness, please don’t do anything drastic like fire Sales Manager. The guy means well. You just haven’t trained him on how to behave in the workplace).

Next, give me a better story to tell.
This is huge. Like I said, I will tell this story every time I hear of LA Fitness.  Why not give me a better story to tell? Give me something else positive to say whenever I hear the name… or, at the very least, give me an ending for this story that will put a positive spin on it.

I guess I am militant after all. Not about Israel (whatever that means), but about word of mouth. Your employees are your brand. Like it or not, Sales Manager defined what LA Fitness means today. So, LA Fitness, it’s your move.

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  • Unbelievable. A nice Jewish boy playing raquetball? Oy, you’ll hurt yourself. All kidding aside, the sales manager is a jackass and probably should be fired. I don’t think his being Dominican means he doesn’t know how rude he is – it’s like a passive aggressive thing: “I’m not from here so I don’t know any better.” Total bullshit. Good post, Jeff. The pen (keyboard) is mightier than the sword. Also, I love the accompanying pic. Hilarious.

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  • Ugh. Now I really want to drop my membership. The whole Dominican-Mexican connection is confusing as to how that relates to a Jewish person being good with money, and therefore you shouldn’t be offended. I’m posting your post. Sorry to those who get repeats.

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  • Thanks. I needed a good laugh tonight. ‘Are you militant?’ *giggle* *snort*

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  • Thanks for posting. I’m amazed that someone with such poor social sensibilities could be promoted to Sales Manager. LA Fitness should be looking for a more complete review process … It’s not just about sales numbers or balancing quotas. This could be a story a lot of people start to tell …

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  • Jeff,
    If I had a dime from every one who said “you don’t look Jewish” I would have more gelt than all the rich Jews in Palm Beach.
    Dont take it personally:-)
    Your girlfriend’s best Shiksah,
    Tavi

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  • Oh
    My
    God

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  • Sage advice and a great example of why organizations should listen to the chatter and engage. Thank you for the shout out!

    Lauren Vargas
    Community Manager at Radian6
    @VargasL

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  • Crazy.

    I’m totally posting this to my facebook.

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  • Jeff,

    Those guys at LA Fitness are bafoons and should be fired. This story needs to blasted all over the Internet.

    – Robbie Camacho

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  • Wow. That’s about all I can say. Wow.

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  • Hey everyone! I want to personally apologize on behalf of LA Fitness. I don’t work there currently but I was general manager for that company for 10 years in Marina del Rey and I knew the owners personally. They are very good people and taught us good morals and ethics regarding customer service. I have seen the owners wife fire somebody on the spot when she heard of bad customer service. If she hears your story, I can’t imagine what she would say. Unfortunately the ignorance of one person can stain the reputation of hundreds. Every local club has a VP and I encourage you to contact him or her and tell them your story. I assure you they will take immediate action. Once again I apologize on behalf of LA Fitness for your bad experience and assure you that their employees (even former employees) care about their reputation.
    – Joe camacho

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    • Hi Joe,
      Thanks for your comment. Maybe you could make sure someone at LA Fitness sees this blog post, because I haven’t had any indication that they are aware of it.
      I appreciate your take on LA Fitness, and I hope they live up to your description.
      Jeff

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  • I feel bad saying so after Joe Camacho’s comment, but I also had a memorably terrible customer service experience at an LA Fitness in Ft. Lauderdale. Luckily they didn’t ask about my belief in Israel – though I did leave the gym feeling a bit militant.

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  • Jeff,
    I quit LA Fitness when I moved in with Michael. I had been a member for years because it was conveniently located near my home. Alas, they charged me three months extra fees and made me snail mail my desire to cancel my membership. Couldn’t do it online. Couldn’t do it in person. Couldn’t do it over the phone. I sent email to them telling them that I was unhappy. I sent snail mail to them and I FB’d them. Never once did I get a reply. While my story is not as awful as yours, it’s the one I tell whenever anyone brings up LA Fitness. It wasn’t the $75 – though that did make me angry – it was that they ignored and inconvenienced me and made me feel cheated.

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  • I just wrote a long diatribe about LA FItness and their unresponsiveness to most issues, lack of customer service, and how awful this situation is, but I just erased it and can only really say….”YIKES”.

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  • UPDATE: I officially quit LA Fitness last night. It rubbed me the wrong way that there was no reaction to this incident. As I said in the post, they should monitor this kind of activity and respond (unprompted)… but when they didn’t, I tried to find a way to contact someone at corporate. They don’t make that easy for you to do.
    I stopped feeling comfortable there, and didn’t work out as much. So, I’m done with them.
    They make it really difficult to quit, of course. Make you jump through a bunch of hoops (probably in hopes that you’ll miss a step and continue to have to pay for a while).
    So, I’m signing back up today at a gym near my house – Central Park Square Athletic Club. It’s a smaller gym, locally owned by really nice people, and has none of the BS you have to deal with at a chain like LA Fitness. The only bummer is I won’t have my racquetball buddies anymore. So, if you’re in Central Phoenix and want to play racquetball, join CPSAC – http://www.centralparksquareathletic.com/ – and give me a shout.
    So, what do you think? Did LA Fitness read my post and ignore it? Am I too small of a blip on their radar even to get noticed? I know it’s a little ambitious to think my little BlabberBlog could have a significant impact on a giant like LA Fitness, but I know that there are others out there like me. If we all make our voices heard, hopefully bigger brands like this will start to listen to their customers.

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  • Wow! Another reason I hate this gym. It is always dirty, AC is always out, along with soap, paper towels and of course toilet paper. Complained once and trainer said: thats not my job! Sent me to front desk, who handed me a roll of paper towels and asked me to bring it back to the locker room!

    Place is disgusting… Another gym opens close by and i will leave immediately!

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