RSS

Category Archives: Customer Service

Bottom-Feeder Planet Fitness Violates Protected Rights!!! Another Report.

“WE’RE GOING AFTER THE 80% OF THE POPULATION* THAT DOESN’T HAVE A GYM MEMBERSHIP”
CHRIS RONDEAU
Planet Fitness CEO


You may not know it but you’ve become a target for the fitness scam of the century, PLANET FITLESS.

It’s all about the money of selling memberships; nothing about you or your fitness!

Thumbs down AGAIN for Plantet Fitness in Glenmont.

We recently published a scathing article on the Planet Fitness franchise, particularly one local facility in Glenmont, New York. Our research actually showed that what we reported about the Glenmont facility is epidemic in most Planet Fitness locations. It seems it’s a corporate characteristic: incompetent management and staff, poor maintenance, and the majority of members are really not what you want to work out with.

The only judgment-free we can find is that it is free of any good judgment.

We have received another serious complaint about Planet Fitness operations, this one points to serious violations of rights guaranteed and protected by the United States Constitution, that is, freedom of speech and opinion. Seems that if someone at the front desk not doing their job but listening to private conversations can go to management who, without due process of any kind such as discussing a possible problem, simply disciplines a member by terminating their membership. No questions asked. Now that’s Planet Fitness customer care. As we’ve already reported, Planet Fitness is a bottom-feeder among fitness clubs, and is really going to hell in a hand basket if recent observations and reports are accurate. Judging by this contributor’s letter, it’s only getting worse.

Now Planet Fitness staff are eroding protected rights like free speech, and they’re doing it in a discriminatory way without any notion of fairness or due process. If you’re Mr Nice Guy, you’ll be the first to go because you won’t beat the crap out of the [redacted] manager or his [redacted] staff. Right Daniel Boughton.

Planet Fitness – The Constitution-free Zone

Here’s what we just received (it’s a bit long but we thought it was worth reprinting in its entirety):

Dear Smalbany Editor:

Let me start out by saying that I am not easily impressed or shocked. In my professional life I have encountered incredible suffering and incredible stupidity and ignorance but, I must admit, just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, someone comes up with another masterpiece of idiocy.

Well, I do apologize, since I am writing to the Smalbany blog, a remarkable venue of never-ending-exposure of local stupidity and ignorance, and the suffering it causes. I read your blog and sometimes just have to shake my head, roll my eyes, and offer a fervent prayer that my friends and neighbors in the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk communities, and our neighbors in the New Baltimore and Greene County communities, read your stuff and wake up to what’s going on. Before I tell my story, and I hope you will publish it, even if you have to edit some of what I have to say, let me first say Thank you! for your time, energy, interest in our communities, but most of all for your guts in saying what others don’t even dare to think. It’s a terrible shame that our communities have become what they are, and we need people like you and your contributors to help us out of the morass into which we’ve sunken thanks to our apathy and unwillingness to speak up.

Several weeks ago, I read a piece the Smalbany blog published on the Planet Fitness franchise [See our article, “Planet Fitness a.k.a. Planet Failure“. The Editor], and I was appalled at what I read. Appalled because I have personally witnessed and experienced much of what you described. But to think that it is so widespread was what really floored me.

Yes, I am, or was, until today, a so-called Black Card Member. I really don’t know why I stuck with Planet Fitness as long as I had but, like so many of my colleagues and friends who are or were members, the fact that it is the bottom feeder of health and fitness facilities was offset by the fact that it was cheap and was on our way home. Well, that’s what we kept telling ourselves.

The fact is, Planet Fitness is a bottom-feeder. Anyone with any sense will admit that and now that there’s more competition in the Albany area with beautiful new YMCAs in Delmar and Coxsackie, Best Fitness, VENT, and other serous, real gyms and exercise studios, the situation as I have been able to observe over the past couple of years is getting worse at Planet Fitness. Worse in that there seem to be more sociopaths and low-lives than ever. But that may be because Planet Fitness is losing all of their top-shelf members to the YMCAs and to the other, more glamorous competition. So I guess they have to make up for their losses by offering cheaper and cheaper deals and attracting a lower and lower class of member

Your article only scraped the surface of what’s going on at Planet Fitness, though, and you have to be a regular at Planet Fitless to really know how bad it is. Don’t be suckered in by the hype and the marketing garbage. This stuff can’t be made up!

Yes, management, if you can call it management, is substandard. At the Glenmont club the manager is about 30 years old and has been “managing” a PF facility for 12 years. 12 years!!! Doing the same thing, dusting equipment, mopping floors, cleaning out urinals, hiring brainless and immature front-desk personnel, and making lame excuses. Clocks were out for months. Equipment unrepaired for weeks. Urinals not working for weeks. Sink fixtures broken likewise for weeks. But the most irritating experience is the type of people that are becoming the regulars. They have no respect — but what can you expect when the staff has no respect —, no gym etiquette, they’re dirty, and the list goes on.

I’ve recently observed the so-called trainer giving an equipment blitz-tour: a quick explanation of what the piece of equipment is working but I have never seen her tell the new member that after using the eequipment, he or she should wipe it down with a paper towel and some of the sanitizer provided. It’s no wonder that these people use the equipment and leave their residues all over it. They have to be told to wipe off their sweat and dirt but nobody at Planet Fitless tells them!

I’ve also never heard or seen the trainer or any of the other staff telling members to pick up after themselves or to put the weights back where they belong. It’s even more of a mess than what you describe in your article.

Management is incompetent and staff are lazy and indifferent. What’s worse still is that the manager is about as mature as the adolescent minds he hires. I guess it makes him feel more comfortable, sorry soul that he is. I can’t imagine what he thinks of himself but then, it takes all kinds.

Yes, I was shocked today when the Glenmont Planet Fitness manager , Daniel Boughton, called me over as I was leaving the facility. He stood there mumbling a lot of words and I was having trouble discerning what the devil he was going on about. I stopped him and asked, “What is it you’re trying to say?” He responded: “I have to terminate your membership.” To be honest, that wasn’t the worst news I could have been given, since I was only waiting until my current membership ran out and I was going to cancel anyway, investing the money in a YMCA membership, because of the quality of the facilities and the programs. No big deal. He’s terminating my membership so now I don’t have to wait. OK.

But curious me, I had to go one step further and asked him Why? What he told me hit me like a brick. His reason: “You are continuously using foul language.” Are you kidding me? Do you know who you are talking to? He repeated, “You are continuously using foul language with staff and other members.” News to me!

I couldn’t believe my ears but when he repeated what he had said I knew I had heard correctly.

My initial reaction was to ask “What are you talking about? First of all, I’ve never used foul language with your staff or with other members.” But ‘continuously’? That really bothered me.

Mr. Boughton pointed out that a couple of months ago I approached him in an agitated state because of some dangerous activity in the free-weights area and an abusive member. I did mention to Mr. Boughton that the member told me to “F**k myself and go tell the manager.” I did quote the member and I did tell Mr. Boughton that “I don’t have to put up with that kind of sh*t.” Yes. I was upset because I was fed up with the same old same old and Boughton and his staff just hold a love fest at the front desk ignoring everything.

Today, another member, a workout buddy, and I had a chat about a new member slamming weights and leaving weights all over the place. My buddy had already told the guy to stop dropping the weights and making such noise. [Editor’s Note: PF has what is called a “Lunk Alarm” which is a whistle or a siren that is operated from the front desk when a member makes too much “inappropriate noise” in the “Non-judgement [sic] Zone.” But isn’t that a judgement [sic[? Apparently the front desk attendants were to busy love-festing to push a button.] He also told him to put his weights away after using them. He was ignored and so he went to the front desk to get one of the “attendants” to talk to the guy. At about this time, rather than being told again to “f**k myself” by some lowlife, I approached the front desk and also asked that someone talk to the guy. The attendants looked uneasy but when we insisted, one of them, a kid, left his perch and seemed to go over to the unruly member. At that point I said something like “#*($(&(@#!! retard member and the staff is too.” I was not happy with how the staff member responded; it was as if we were bothering him, making him do his job, the snotty brat. Apparently [redacted] attendant was offended and carried the “story” back to Boughton, who decided that I was abusive and “continuously using foul language with staff and other members.”

PF Has It But Staff is Too Lazy to Push the Button!

So what I got for my years of membership and loyalty is an insult and a termination. Oh! And I got handed a scrap piece of paper with Daniel Boughton’s manager’s name and telephone number. Boughton told me if I wanted to discuss the termination I could call Dan Harms, his boss. No thanks! Dealing with one ding-a-ling is enough for one day. [Editor’s Note: Wise decision. We’ve spoken to both Boughton and Harms; you don’t want too much contact with the brainless; it might be contagious.] Besides, I wouldn’t want to interrupt Mr Harms’ urinal fishing.

That was it. My private remark to a like-minded buddy was enough to get my membership terminated. No discussion, no inquiry. Summary termination. Isn’t that illegal on some planets?

I could go on but what’s the use? Planet Fitness is Planet Fitless. It sells memberships whether you use them or not. New members, short-term widgets get dumped on veterans who know how to work out together and make life miserable before disappearing, paying their $10 and some ridiculous monthly pittance.

Your article was over-the-top right. Everything you wrote is true but in reality it’s actually worse.

At this point, after some 5 years a Planet Fitness member, and getting treated like that by the likes of the Glenmont Planet Fitness staff, I’m grateful for the nudge to move on.

People interested in real fitness and professionally managed facilities, management who cares, and members who care about their club and their health and safety would do well to avoid Planet Fitness. Yes it’s cheap but you get what you pay for. Some people will accept that. People with any self-respect won’t.

[Name Redacted by Smalbany Policy]

P.s. I know you say you don’t publish names but I have no problem with your publishing my name. I don’t really care if Planet Fitness knows who I am. In fact, I know many local people read your blog and at least my friends who read this blog will know why they are not seeing me any more. I’m sure Boughton won’t tell them the truth – he didn’t even tell me the truth. If you publish my letter, let me say Thank you!

Well, that’s another Planet Fitless (we liked that so we’re going to use it) horror story. We’ve edited in some emphasis and some notes and edited out some words but for the most part, we’ve reproduced the letter as sent and received.

Does this sound like a lawsuit in the making to you? We think there’s good lawsuit in this situation and we’ll be happy to research the possibilities for our reader.

There’s a saying that goes “There’s a sucker born every minute.” We guess that at that rate, there will be enough suckers to keep Planet Fitless going for a while but then what? Are you one of those suckers?

Planet Fitness Club Rated:

Glenmont, NY
Daniel Boughton, Manager
329 Glenmont Road
Glenmont NY 12077
518-439-1200

EXPOSED AGAIN!

 

Does your funeral home provide customer service or human service?

An Op-Ed Republished with Permission


As a provider of psychospiritual care to the bereaved, as a professional bereavement chaplain, theologian and thanatologist, I firmly believe that some things just have to be delivered locally and face-to-face; these include sex, making friends, spiritual care, funeralization services. Not necessarily in that order or priority ranking.


Grief work is not achieved in three days nor with an online consult. That’s purely and simply idiotic.

The saying goes thus: “Death is the great equalizer.” We are all equal in death. Presidents, kings, supreme court justices, movie stars, athletes all die, all decay, all go the same way as the homeless man on the corner. But would you think of direct burial or direct cremation for a president, a queen, Mohammed Ali? So why skimp on grandpa? We celebrate the deceased’s achievements in life, not the fact of his or her being dead. And we do it with pomp, ceremony, rites, ritual, tradition, dignity and respect. Virtual mourning is none of the above and the grief work is not achieved in three days nor with an online consult. That’s purely and simply idiotic.

Furthermore, a death is a social, political and community event. The emotions involved in the acute grief experience are far too complex and idiosyncratic to be amenable to one method, one technology, one dose. As a social, political and community event death care requires real community involvement, hands on, and that means a local group understanding the local cultures, a “neighborhood,” if you prefer. This is a physical community, complex, deep, involved, alive; not a virtual make-believe, conjured up community.

One more thing: We have to stop giving Jessica Mitford and her estate post-mortem kudos for a book and a sequel book that was not only self-serving and conflicted in its interests, but a masterpiece of biased muckraking appealing to the titillation lust of the masses and their denial of death anxieties. Mitford couldn’t attack Death itself nor could or would she attempt to attack institutionalized religion, so she went after the next best thing, the funeral services industry. I’ve cited Mitford several times on my various blogs so I won’t waste bytes on her here.

I place Mitford in the same category as Kübler-Ross in that neither of them can claim any objective or scientific credibility but their main contribution to Western, particularly American society, was to get people talking about death and deathcare services. That, my friends, was a big step in a society frozen in preadolescent fascinations, psychosocial pathological denial, anxiety and narcissism, steeped in materialist humanism and addicted to corporate-fed consumerism.

It’s progressively gotten worse with the public health problem of Internet Addiction Disorder and the pathological subset, Facebook Addiction Disorder, and the emergence of the multistate funeral services groups like Newcomer Funeral Services Group, Service Corporation International and their alter ego Dignity Memorial, and StoneMor, who have all added greed and indifference to the corporate mix of tastelessness and deception of the consumer public. and their dead Again, I’ve commented extensively on these ghouls of the funeral services niche so I won’t waste time or words on them here.

Newcomer, SCI/Dignity Memorial, StoneMor
Ghouls of Corporate Death Services

They want your money not your brains!

Like it or not, death is inevitable for every mortal creature from cockroaches to presidents and kings. No matter how you define or think about it, you will have to some day deal with death so get a grip. How you deal with the death of a significant other in your life, whether that loved one is a pet or a parent or a child–or your own death is a matter of what I will term befriending death. No, I don’t mean the superficial, make believe, virtual “befriending” most of you are addicted to on Facebook and other social media. I mean the kind of be-friending that involves learning about, nurturing an intimacy with, even trusting, welcoming into your world, and frequent contact. Being at ease with, acknowledging, being aware of death is key. That may sound a bit bizarre so let me explain.

Technology has evolved faster than we as human beings have done. We lag far behind technology in our understanding of it and our ability to wisely and prudently steward it. In fact, technology has overrun us and has taken over our lives; this can’t be denied. This fact has been used to the level of Dr Strangelove proportions by corporations and big business, and even by individuals with pathological ambitions like Donald Trump on Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg with the Facebook phenomenon. The medical, psychological and ethics journals are full of reports on the so-called Internet Addiction Disorder, which was described back in the 90’s, and now there’s a subset of that disorder termed the Facebook Addiction Disorder and the Internet Gaming Disorder, which all share the same symptoms as alcoholism and street drug addiction like heroin or the like. Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it, just go to Pubmed and plug in a couple search terms and you’ll get all the proof you’ll ever need of this fact.


Editor’s note: For those of you who are not familiar with Pubmed, it is the database and search engine maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health; it provides access primarily to the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. (Access Pubmed here. )


You have to admit you have a problem when you need Facebook to help you grieve!

The stimulus for this editorial, however, is not Newcomers or SCI. Nor is it Twitter or Facebook. The funeral service corporations and the social media and networking evils do figure in the theme of this communication, however.
If presidents and perverts have discovered social networking and social media, neither of which are social in the benevolent meaning of the word but serve a more sinister, asocial purpose of getting people hooked and then controlling them, just as the word “service” is used deceptively when used in conjunction with such greed mills as Newcomers or Service Corporation International.
The stimulus for this commentary is, in fact, an article that appeared in Forbes online, “Customer Service In Deathcare: How The Funeral Home Industry Cares For The Living” (contributed by Micah Solomon, MAY 26, 2017).—

Mr Solomon describes himself as a “customer service consultant” and “consumer trends expert,” — he doesn’t say how he got those credentials, though — catchy phrases but a bit too catchy to inspire any confidence or credibility. I’m a bit at a loss not at the What? but at the How? when Mr Solomon then goes on to say:

While some of my own work with the death care industry as a customer service consultant and consumer trends expert has been on innovation in the deathcare customer experience (methods for serving today’s far-flung bereaved customers by using connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies to allow them to take part in memorial/celebration of life service) most of the work I do in this industry and that matters the most, in my opinion, is simply aimed at improving the customer experience, which, of course, is for the living.

Likewise unclear is Solomon’s terminology “far-flung bereaved customers” and “connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies” to involve them in the “memorial/celebration of life service“. Maybe it’s Mr Solomon’s sense of compassion that is represented by his use of the term “far-flung” to describe the unfortunate mourners who are separated by distance from the event. Describing the bereaved as “customers” further chills the atmosphere he’s creating. Technical jargon like “connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies” somehow put a damper on my sense that this guy has any clue about the nature of bereavement, acute grief, mourning, tradition, spirituality, cultural sensitivity, or even the characteristics of the vocation of funeral director. I’m therefore at something of a loss how he, with his frigid and disconnected technospeak, can improve the customer experience! This he leaves to the funeral directors he’s interviewing. Wisely so.

But even more poignant ar the three phrases caught my attention in that unimaginitive and deceptive title: “customer service,” “deathcare,” “funeral home industry.”

We alone, as moral agents and social actors, are responsible for what we do and how we do it

Inserting a bit of Kantian deontology that I’d like you to keep in the back of your mind while reading this, I’d like to say that we are not measured by what the other guy or gal does, but by what we do; we alone, as moral agents and social actors, are responsible for what we do and how we do it. It’s the quality of our values, morals and ethics that govern our behavior. As moral free agents we alone are responsible for what standards are used to guide our conduct.This applies not only to our inner forum, our conscience and how it guides us, but to the external forum, the community in which we live, work, and may disinterestedly interact.

Human service becomes “customer” service when an goods or services transaction forms the basis of the interaction

Customer service is at its most basic human service, service to human beings, human interaction, relationship building. By human services, I mean a broad range of interdisciplinary services whose commitment is jointly and individually to improve the overall quality of life in diverse populations through guidance in meeting basic human needs and support remediating real or perceived social challenges.  Human service becomes “customer” service when a goods or services transaction forms the basis of the interaction but it is still a subset of human services. Accordingly, customer service cannot separate itself from the humane aspect, the relationship aspect of its nature. The problem I have with the Forbes article is that, true to the materialist consumerist interests of Forbes, the article defines customer service purely in terms of selling and purchasing relationships but in the context of the so-called, malapropism, funeral service industry. Customer service must be human service, especially in the funeral services professions. Human service and hence customer service in this framework is near impossible on a corporate or industrial scale for reasons I’d be happy to substantiate in another article, if required.

Try doing this on Facebook or in cyberspace!

The second term that raised my suspicions is “deathcare.” We can defined death care as the care given to the dead or as post-mortem care. This would involve respectful and dignified custodianship and preparation of the dead body for whatever funeralization rites and rituals are appropriate as defined by the deceased individual during his or her life or as requested by the survivors. We must not oversimplify deathcare with the deathcare services businesses and industries that commonly provide services related to the dead body and death traditions, that is, preparation of the dead body (removal, embalming, cosmetology, etc.), funeral rituals, disposal (burial, cremation, etc.), and memorialization. The deathcare business includes for example funeral homes and their operations, including transporation services; containers like caskets, coffins, urns; accelerated decomposition services such as alkaline hydrolysis, cremation, etc.; cemeteries and burial plots, and headstones, markers, etc. What we most neglect in the discussion of deathcare services is psychospiritual care, and here we must include the professional bereavement chaplain and some but not most clergy.

The phrase that most raised my hackles is “funeral home industry.” First of all, the funeral home is not an industry. It may operate like a business but it is a professional operation requiring very specific training and licensure in most places. Most states require a trained and licensed funeral director to at least oversee the operations of a funeral home. The term “funeral home industry” is grossly misleading and deceptive because it creates an image of the traditional funeral home with all of its warmth and amenities together with the dignified and compassionate professional funeral director at its helm. Nothing could be farther from the truth if one looks at the funeral services industry, the more correct designation for the funeral services groups and corporations such as Newcomer Funeral Services Group, Service Corporation International (Dignity Memorial) or StoneMor, who operate more like waste disposal business than funeral homes. Remember corporations operate according to policies, procedures, protocols and most of all the bottom line and shareholder satisfaction. No room here for stuff like compassion, empathy, much less “human service”.

Their focus is twofold: dignified care of the dead and compassionate care of the living.

The traditional, community funeral home is a hub of interdisciplinary teamwork.

The role of the funeral services provider, more accurately the funeral services team, is just that: to provide human services. Those human services are provided by a team of specialists that range from the funeral home cleaning and maintenance person(s), to the housekeeper, the groundskeeper, the funeral home assistants, the behind the scenes professionals (the cosmetologist, the hair stylist, the embalmer), to the front of house staff (the assistants, the funeral director(s)), to the psychospiritual care provider (the funeral home chaplain or associated clergyperson). Their focus is twofold: dignified care of the dead and compassionate care of the living. The human services aspect persists far beyond the care provided with the first call, the removal, the arrangements conference, the chaplain visit and consultation, the visitation or the funeral; what happens at any of these milestones significantly affects the survivors during, immediately after the services, and well into the future, perhaps for years. That’s what the funeral services industry, the large groups, the corporations can’t provide but what the local family-owned funeral home pride themselves in: the human side of funeral services. So be clear on this point: once you start talking “industry” you are not talking “human”. Period.

So far I’ve taken issue only with three phrases that occur in the title of the article alone. But what about the remainder of the so-called article at issue? Well, there’s not much to say about it because the bulk of it is made up of questions put to three selected funeral directors and their responses. Their responses are totally acceptable in terms of the language, and to be honest I can’t find much with which I’d tend to disagree. The funeral directors seem to have their acts in order and say the right things. They are in a highly competitive business and have to be realistic, not necessarily traditional. Read into that what you like.

It should be clear by this point that I do not advocate virtual or technological or corporate solutions to anything as profound as the death experience or any occurrence of acute traumatic bereavement. Electronic signals, bits and bytes, virtual compassion just do not and cannot replace the warmth of human spirit, the compassionate embrace of a friend or loved one, the immediacy of the death experience, the real-ization of the death and its sequellae. The funeral home and its resident and on-call team members are the experts in offering compassion and comfort and no social networking scheme, no corporate disposal package, no virtual event and no DVD can replace the authenticity and true empathic response of face-to-face, human-to-human, verbal and non-verbal communications, the symbols and rituals that give meaning to this most mysterious of life events, death.

… some things just have to be delivered locally and face-to-face; these include sex, making friends, spiritual care, funeralization services.

This is what we do.

The Editor

 


Editor’s Note: Solomon’s self-description reads line a narcissist’s mini-bio: “I’m best known as an author, keynote speaker, consultant, and thought leader in customer service, customer experience, company culture, leadership, hospitality, innovation, entrepreneurship and consumer trends. I travel nationally and worldwide, and home base is metro Seattle. Reach me at 484-343-5881 or micah@micahsolomon.com or http://www.micahsolomon.com” We’ve contacted him for a comment on this editorial.


Acknowledgement: I’d like to extend my special thanks to my colleagues on LinkedIn, Ms Linda Williams M. Ed., M. Th., who describes herself as an Entrepreneur, Virtual Event Planner and Facilitator, Instructional Designer, Educator, Inspirational Speaker”.” Ms Williams describes her business, In-Person Away Virtual Events, as an operation that provides “our clients, their families, and friends with a virtual alternative to come together in an engaging, realistic and meaningful way, as well as host and attend social events, without breaking the bank on travel expenses.” Ms Williams does not advocate virtual resources as a substitute for real presence but only as a valuable alternative affording an opportunity to share where no other viable options are available. I agree.