Tuesday, June 26, 2007

into the customer service woods

I wish I could channel Tracy Lynn Kaply at will. Or at least, I wish I’d had a good sharp spoon on me Friday at Bally’s. It’s really the only way to deal with corporate bureaucracy.

Here’s the story: My healthcare company will reimburse me for my gym membership if I go 50 times in six months (it’s true—there is a healthcare organization that actually promotes preventative care. Oxford. I recommend ‘em). Through the miracle of cheap-ass-ness, I managed to do this. Now all I needed were three things from Bally’s.

1) A signature from any club employee confirming that this was a facility that “promoted cardiovascular health.”

2) A printout stating my monthly rate.

3) A brochure listing the gym’s amenities.

So, like the baker in Into the Woods who must find five treasures in order to reverse the curse that has left him and his wife childless, I took a deep breath and went into Bally employee Tom’s office.

Tom [lifting cell phone away from his ear ever so slightly]: What do you need?

Me: So, um, my healthcare company reimburses me for my gym membership, and I need three things: a signature—

Tom [sighing into cell]: Hang on. [Puts cell down—open—on table.]

Me: A signature confirming that this is a facility that promotes cardiovascular health—

Tom: We can’t sign anything. Only corporate can sign things.

Me: Can I talk to a manager?

Tom: I am the manager.

Me: You’re the manager, but you can’t sign anything? You can’t sign something saying, basically, “Yeah, we have StairMasters here”?

Tom: Only corporate can sign things. [Writes an 800 number on a piece of paper.]

Me: Okay, well I also need a printout stating my monthly rate.

Tom: Can’t do that.

Me: You can’t tell me my monthly rate?

Tom: I can tell you, but I can’t give you a printout. We don’t print things.

Me: You know, this is just one of many really frustrating things about Bally’s. Your class schedules are always wrong—

Tom: That’s a separate issue.

Me [realizing I’ve become the Crazy Customer]: Yeah, I know.

Tom: You can take that up with corporate too.

Other customer who has wandered in: You should mention it at the same time when you call. Because let me tell you, you’ll be on hold forever.

Me [to Tom]: This is really lame. I know it’s not your fault, but this is very lame. Can I at least get a Bally’s brochure?

Tom handed me a brochure. I spent the next 20 minutes on the treadmill, glaring into his glass-walled office. When I got home, I realized the brochure was in Spanish.

I called my sister, who has been waging a personal war with Bally’s ever since they decided to start charging $7 for yoga classes, to complain about my ordeal.

“I’m glad they have brochures in Spanish,” I said, “but I gave Tom no reason to believe I spoke Spanish.”

Cathy said, “They were probably out of English brochures because they gave them all out to their Spanish-speaking customers.”

I complained some more to AK, admitting, “This is an embarrassing thought, but I couldn’t help but think, ‘Starbucks would never treat me this way.’ It’s like I’m looking for another corporate shoulder to cry on.”

“They probably wouldn’t ever be that bad,” said AK.

If you need me, I’ll be drowning my sorrows in an orange mocha frappuccino.


Jamie Asaye FitzGerald said...

Ha ha! The larger evil is the corporate model, but that Tom guy... Could he at least have pretended to have half a brain? Sheesh.

Cheryl said...

If he'd pretended, I just would have ended up being disappointed. At least I knew from the minute he half pulled his cell phone away from his ear what I was in for.