You've heard of the nanny state? We're feeling a lot like the nanny health club lately.
It seems that many of our members expect us to balance their checkbooks for them, track their monthly expenses and keep them out of credit card debt. They also expect us to use divine intervention to know when they want to cancel their memberships. These requests aren't by any means new to us, but there sure have been a lot of them over the past few weeks. Some examples:
"My son never got your calls about his bounced payments. He dropped his phone into a pool." Her son wanted to cancel his membership, but he had several overdue payments and we require members to be current before they are canceled. So we called. And called. And e-mailed. But it seems that once he dropped his phone in the pool, he went to live in a cave, never to replace it, never to check voicemail, never to interact with the outside world again.
"You're stealing my money!" This member's wife was still being billed, although his daughter had been canceled as requested. The wife had not been canceled, because they had never requested that. So, it wasn't just our fault that they were still paying. We were criminals.
"Why don't you just cancel members who stop showing up? Why do I need to cancel?" This was a woman who last visited just two months ago. She was horrified that we drafted her account for January and then February. Hadn't we noticed she hadn't been in? Weren't we sophisticated enough to know that she obviously wasn't using the club? We had to explain that we're not mind readers.
"I canceled two years ago. Why are you still taking payments?" We were still taking payments because she had not canceled two years ago. Actually, she had sent in a cancellation request two years ago, and then the next day asked us to ignore that and keep her active. She didn't notice that we had been drafting her checking account for two years? TWO YEARS? Part of our conversation went like this:
Member: There wasn't any way for me to know that I was still being charged.
Rob: You mean other than the line in your checking account statement every month that said "Elevations Health Club"?
Member: Regardless of that, there was no way for me to know.
"I've had fraudulent charges ever since I gave you my credit card." This member thought she had canceled three months previously (better than two years, right?), but hadn't noticed any of the charges until then. So, she hadn't looked at her credit card statement for three months, but she knew we were to blame for fraudulent charges.
"Someone told me that my billing would stop because I was moving. I didn't know I had to put anything in writing." If we were ever in court and a lawyer said, "Is there ANY chance that one of your staff people took a cancellation over the phone?" we would say "no." We don't know what our staff says or does all the time, but there is zero chance that any one of them will ever take a cancellation over the phone or would give anyone the impression that a cancellation can be submitted verbally.
So, we don't know anymore. Are some people too dumb to run their own lives? Are they just plain liars? Is it because we're just a health club to them and not a "real" business? Or maybe they really do want to live in a nanny state, where nothing is their fault and they have no responsibility for their finances?
We can help get them in shape and improve their quality of life. We can't be expected to solve all of their problems.