I just had one of the weirdest experiences trying to join a gym out here. I decided to join a gym for the swimming – that is one thing that I can’t really do on my own. So I looked through their brochure and decided on a time (I had to choose a specific 3 hour period to be at the gym each day). The brochure mentioned there was a $50 initial entrance charge; something that is common in Japan.
I went to the gym with money in hand ready to pay when the following conversation took place:
me: “I’d like to join in the 3 pm – 6 pm slot please”
staff: “Is this your first time?”
me: “No, I was a member for awhile about a year ago.”
staff: “We can give you a trial day to see how you like it.”
me: “I was a member before. I know that I want to join from 3 pm to 6 pm”
staff: “If you do the trial day, we will waive the entrance fee.”
me: “Well, I don’t really need the trial day since I know I want to join.”
staff: “If you don’t take the trial day, then we must charge you the $50 entrance fee.”
staff: “So you can see if you like it…”
me: “Can’t you just pretend I had a trial day and give me the entrance fee discount so I can pay today?”
staff: “No, you have to set up a trial day.”
me: “But it is exactly the same. If I set up the trial day for Monday, then I will begin my membership on Tuesday. I already know I want to join.”
staff: “But it has been a long time since you have been here. You should try to see if you like it.”
me: “You know that doesn’t make any sense” (laughing)
staff: staring at me like how could I not know it made perfect sense
me: “OK fine. I will do the trial day on Monday. Can I pay now?”
staff: “You haven’t had your trial day yet.”
me: “Oh, yes, right. I don’t know if I want to join yet (sarcasm they didn’t understand). So can I pay after the trial day?
staff: “If you decide you want to join then.”
me: “Right. Because I’m not sure I want to join yet because I haven’t had my trial day yet (more sarcasm not understood)”
I left there wondering who in the hell had come up with that campaign. My guess is that it was for people that came in asking for information and weren’t sure if they wanted to join. by offering a free trial day and waiving the entrance fee, I’m sure they attract many that may be on the borderline. But to strictly stick to it in a situation that obviously it wasn’t meant to address was crazy (and even crazier that they didn’t see it didn’t make any sense turning away someone who wanted to pay).
Ah, the joys of living in Japan sometimes….