(Note: This is a follow-up/conclusion to my post a few weeks ago about trainers. Finally, this saga ends. )
You know what makes me sad? How, consistently, society only gives you what you deserve if you don’t settle for anything less. In the past, people around me would give me the benefit of the doubt, treat me with respect, or be kind in general just because it was the right thing to do. Now, however, I’ve noticed people, mostly entrepreneurs trying to startup new businesses, don’t offer such courtesies unless I demand it. And by demand, I mean when I threaten to take my business elsewhere. And trust me, by the time I’m ready to take my business elsewhere and tell said company about it, I’ve already made up my mind to move on.
I realize the owners of these businesses think I’m being unrealistic, impatient or short-sighted. But the truth is, the beginning of a relationship, whether it’s with a business, friend or new romantic partner, is the best at the beginning. And if someone is willing to show true colors that quickly, I can’t imagine how bad it will be if I get invested in a partnership with that person or company.
On the flip side, there’s always a part of me that feels guilty when I put my foot down. I assume this is guilt coming from being raised to “be a nice person” or avoid being a “crazy woman.” But the truth is, I know what I deserve. If I don’t get it, there are plenty of other businesses and people willing to meet my minimal expectation.
Specifically, I’m talking about a local guy who I bought some personal training time from when it went on sale with Groupon. Now, don’t get me wrong. I realize when businesses sell these items at a deep discount they often don’t make a lot of money or are even losing money. But, the point isn’t to make money on these, the point is to get your foot in the door with clientele who wouldn’t otherwise purchase your services, right? I’ve tried new restaurants this way, and I’ve gone back, at full price. Of course, I’ve also tried new restaurants this way, seen it wasn’t worth full price, and never gone back. There’s the rub. If you offer something at a discount and it’s not worth the discounted price, you’ll never get a returning customer at full-price.
I have had some experience with this trainer, and felt like I’d be willing to give his paid services a shot. They always seemed too pricey for me to make a leap, so when the Groupon came available, I jumped at the chance. It would take a lot to make his full-priced service worth it, but maybe if I got my foot in the door, I’d see the benefit and realize it was worth it. Or, I’d find a way to discount his full price service (he always referenced food and supplements, which I don’t need). I was actually excited about this.
Until I tried to put the training into motion. I approached him and asked him how to redeem my Groupon. He was short with me and referred me to his website as if I was inconveniencing him asking him. Sigh. OK. So I went to the website and filled out a survey a mile long. Now, I don’t mind giving information, and was excited that a trainer actually wanted to know this much about me. But the survey seemed to be repetitive and didn’t seem to have a clear purpose. Also fine. Maybe I just don’t see the big picture, yet. So I take a LOT of time to fill out the survey. And jump through a bunch of hoops to setup our first consultation. When I arrive, it’s clear he hasn’t read the survey I was required to complete. And then he makes fun of me for writing “so much.” Um, I thought that was why you had so many questions?
So we go through the consultation, which was pretty straight forward. Height, weight, my goals, my roadblocks, and a few fitness tests. I had gone to a cycle class prior to this, and he knew that was my plan. I told him I really wanted to go to cycle, and if I had to, I’d cut back on the short bootcamp after the evaluation. The bootcamp had nothing to do with the evaluation, it’s how I found him as a trainer to begin with. When I arrived at the consultation and he asked how my morning had been, I mentioned cycle. When we were doing the evaluation, I mentioned cycle again and assumed he hadn’t heard me the first time (or read my email about going to cycle??). Then during the post-consultation bootcamp, he makes fun of me, in public, for being so sweaty. Uh, dude, CYCLE!!! So at this point, I’m annoyed. I hate it when men ask questions to seem interested, and then don’t listen to the answer. It’s like a first date. A bad first date. Annoying.
I leave the bootcamp without mention of actual training times. I honestly didn’t think about it until I got home. Later that day he sent an email asking about times I could setup my first training. I reply back. Nothing. No reply for days. By the time he replies, I’d already made plans for one of the five days I’d listed. Of course he chose that day. I reply and say, “Between my original email and your reply, I made plans on that day. I didn’t want to keep all the days open if something wasn’t set in stone.” He replies back, “Are your available days going to keep changing?” That’s it. No friendly tone. No, “OK, well, let’s get a time set so it’s set” or anything like that. Just a brisk reply that conveyed frustration.
Um, this is NOT what I signed up for. I replied within hours of your original email. You ignore me for days, then reply, then are pissed that I’ve made plans during the time you didn’t reply? This is a business. Either get on top of it, or don’t be mad when your clients, who are paying for your service, aren’t going to clear their entire schedule for ONE training session. I’m sorry, my life’s more than going to your training.
Plus, the way the Groupon was worded, it made it sound like the available time slots were flexible and easy to pick. Um, this is not so easy. Why don’t you have a way for me to go online and sign up for the appropriate time slots? Then we can avoid this antiquated emailing. The site won’t let the times over-fill. Plus, it’s added incentive for clients to choose their classes quickly. But, if we’re going to get into ease of use and clean website design, there’s a whole different discussion.
And I don’t mean to rag on the guy. He’s a perfectly nice guy, and seems to be making a good attempt at starting what could be a successful business. The only problem is he acts like we should be lucky to have him. When, in fact, as a new business, he should be happy to have new clients consider him. Especially considering all of the options there are around town, most at a much more affordable rate. If he weren’t hurting for business, he never would have posted the Groupon. So in order to strike a good deal between the two of us, you offer a discounted service, prove your worth, get me as a full-price customer.
I reply and say, “My schedule doesn’t change if I have an appointment on my calendar. If we set some days in stone, then my schedule won’t change.” He replies immediately and says something about me having to choose the same time, and I can do a MWF or TTH schedule. So I reply and say, “So can you put me down for days A, B, C, D, E, F?” (Six consecutive Tuesdays/Thursdays, starting at the time he’d recommended in the earlier email.)
OK, so at this point, I’m done. I’m done with this guy. Done with giving him a chance. Done even caring about losing the money I’ve invested in the Groupon. This is why the YMCA is successful. You pick your times, go to class, that’s it. I tell myself I’m not going, I’m considering the cost I’ve paid so far small, and will use this experience as a reminder to NEVER purchase personal training hours ever again. From anyone. Any time I’ve purchase any type of personal training it’s been a huge letdown.
Of course, three days later he replies. Suddenly, he’s compliant and eager to train me. Too bad it’s too late and I’m over this drama and manipulation and guilt-laying. The whole reason I’m over-weight is because of emotional issues. I don’t need someone who’s allegedly going to try to help me get healthier making fun of how much time I put into his required survey, mocking how much I’m sweating, not listening to me when I say something repeatedly, and making me feel guilty for having a personal life, then ignoring me. I’m better off doing this whole bit on my own.
The week after I was supposed to start training I get an email asking if I’m coming. I reply and say that sometimes things just don’t fit. It really did feel like a breakup. Good thing I never invested any more into it emotionally than I did. It felt good to walk away knowing I’d never get from him what I deserved.