Jules et Gym

For this  entry and for this entry only, I wish my name was indeed, “Jules”.  But my homage to Francois Truffaut will have to continue as Neil et Rolando.  Rolando is the assistant manager at my local gym that, against all odds, I went over to join last week.  I sat down with him and the fun began.  I had belonged to this gym years ago and the thing I remember most clearly about that experience is that it’s nearly impossible to quit.  Oh…you can stop going, but it almost takes an Act of Congress  to stop them from continuing to charge your account.  With that in mind, I told Rolando that I was interested in a monthly membership and that I wouldn’t be paying by credit card but would instead pay cash.  This really threw him–it had never been done before–but he agreed.  He then informed me that there was a $249 membership fee.  What Rolando couldn’t have realized was that he was dealing with someone who didn’t want to join.  Someone who was looking for any excuse to stay away.  So, when I balked at paying any  membership charge whatsoever, he said that he might be able to “knock a hundred dollars off.”    Believe me, I’m not a hondler (ask your rabbi)–ordinarily I pay the price that’s asked–but in this case I would have been thrilled if he would have told me there was no room for further negotiation.  But unfortunately, when he saw that I was willing to walk, he said that he’d agree to waive the entire fee.   

Although I felt pretty awful about joining the gym I was really pleased with the way I had handled the transaction, particularly with the way I’d found to beat the system by paying cash.  I’d set it up so that when I quit (I’m already planning that), there will be no credit card for them to charge.   My euphoria didn’t last very long.  Sometime the next day, I got a call from Rolando explaining that his boss wanted me to leave a credit card number,  explaining that they wouldn’t use the card but they would like to have it on file so that they would have some backup in case I didn’t “honor my contract”.  (Said contract requires a registered letter sent a month in advance of quitting–I’ve already drafted mine.)  So in this chess game, my king had just been “checked”.  I countered their move  by using the Cardmember gambit.  I gave Rolando my American Express card number assuming that Amex would handle any disputes that might arise.  (I’ve already put their customer relations number on speed dial.)

Although I’m not feeling as cocky about the way things turned out as I initially felt, I think I’ve learned a valuable lesson when it comes to bargaining.  To wit:  If you’re negotiating to buy something you really don’t want, you can drive a hard bargain.  A really hard bargain.  Bearing that in mind, I’ve turned my attention to finding other things that I don’t want, to see how little I can get them for.  Right now, I have my eye on some SCUBA gear I saw in the window of a store nearby; there’s also this velour sweatsuit for sale across the street that’s caught my attention.  Boy, this is great!  I’m getting excited! Now, if only Ford would start making Edsels again.  I think that could be something I really wouldn’t want.

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3 Responses to “Jules et Gym”

  1. Ray Says:

    I am sitting here laughing at loud after reading your latest saga in the battle of life. As Robert DeNiro once said, ” You are good, very, very good”.

    My only question is What ever happened to that positive thinking guy I met years ago??

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    funny… i thought that i WAS being positive.

    anyway… you know that tennis racket of yours that i don’t really like…i’ll give you $8.50 for it….interested?

  3. roberta berman Says:

    Buy yourself two one gallon jugs.a jump rope, a pair of running shoes and forget the gym.I know that you own a bike. Look at all the money you saved so you can spend it on going out and haveing a goog time

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