Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cancelling a Gym Membership

If you've ever joined a gym, you know how difficult it can be to leave. One gym I considered joining a few years ago had very low monthly rates but required significant documentation -- including a letter from a doctor -- to cancel a membership. When I decided not to join, the salesman accused me of using his gym for free and ripped up the contract. Needless to say, when I looked up the company, they had their own issues with commitment, as they regularly opened and closed clubs under new corporations.

So today when I joined New York Sports Club, I was surprised to hear the salesman tell me not only about the free month being offered with annual membership, but also a way to cancel that membership without incurring a $150 fee. (If you're curious, it just requires downgrading from an annual to a monthly fee which has no cancellation fee).

Why would a salesman, who is trying to get me to join, explain how I can leave? One word: empathy. Just as we appreciate the ability to return items we bought, we value services that allow us to cancel at any time. It shows that the person who is taking our money is human, and understands that by choice or circumstance, we may change our minds. That's why cell phone companies have changed to monthly plans with no contracts, and why companies like Zappos and Shoebuy offer free return shipping. Offering people the option to reconsider shows empathy for customers, who in turn feel a greater sense of power and ownership over the sale. Put simply: if you want to draw someone in, make sure you give them an out. 

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