Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Perils of Free Trials & Contracts- Stamps.com Can Stick It, Odyssey Fitness a Waste and Blockbuster Online Rocks

The Health Club Membership- The Only Thing I Lost Was My Money
Odyssey Fitness in Wilkes-Barre used to be convenient to where I worked. But since I was on the woman's side, which closed at 7:00p.m., the hours were not. Plus, I live about 45 minutes away-- so it was just so stupid to sign a one-year contract at $24.95 per month. My year was over I think in June or July. I probably could have gotten out of the contract if I really tried, but I let it go. So, I continued to wastefully have $24.95 debited from my account each month for an entire year, plus three months even thought I never set foot in the place.

Today, I was looking at my bank account online and saw this month's charge-- I realized that crap, I CAN cancel now because it has been a year. Nearly $300, down the drain. Can you believe it? I really hate that Odyssey Fitness in Wilkes-Barre does that. Everyone is talking about the new Planet Fitness in Edwardsville because it's $20 a month, unlimited tanning and NO CONTRACTS!! It makes me wonder if Odyssey really is that bad that they make people sign contracts because otherwise they'd leave. My feeling on this is why reel someone into a contract for something like a health club? People move all the time. People change jobs and shifts all the time. Why make it difficult for them to get out of a membership that they clearly cannot use? On the flip side, if someone is happy where they work out and take classes, wouldn't they continue to pay their membership? I clearly lost a lot of money, all my own faultof course, but why do places like Odyssey Fitness make you sign a contract? In hindsight, I regret doing it. It was kind of a rip-off. So- my word to the wise- don't join Odyssey Fitness in Wilkes-Barre if you aren't rock solid you'll go or you are uncertain if you will move or change your work schedule, when suddenly the gym does not jive with your wheareabouts or your schedule.

Stamps.com Can Stick It! (haha, I crack myself up!)
Stamps.com is my other gripe. I signed up for a free trial a ways back, mostly because I lived in the Boonies and never had stamps. After a month went by, I tried to cancel my free trial because, well, I never got around to buying labels to print my postage. I called Stamps.com to cancel. When you call places like Stamps.com to cancel an account, they sneakily direct you to a Retention Department, or rather, a bunch of well-trained reverse sales people. I have no idea what they guy said to me, but basically he didn't let me cancel and said to call back in another month. Whatever. I hung up because I was frustrated with him and his tactics- he was pretty much a bully. For what? Postage? Come on! I made a mental note to call back and hope I got someone not as pushy. Yeah. A whole year went by. Fast forward to now.

I have a credit card that I used to sign up for Stamps.com- I don't really use it for anything else- it was my online card that I used solely for stuff like that. Well, I had to go online and change my billing method for that card and saw the Stamps.com charge for $7.95. Crap! I forgot. Another year or more at$7.95 per month- probably at least $100 for absolutely NOTHING. I never even logged back in. Never printed on piece of postage. Why can't Stamps.com just provide good customer service, like Blockbuster.com does for their online service and let users simply cancel online, no questions asked, no bullying, no trying to save the account?

So today, I called Stamps.com today to cancel after paying them one year of $7.95 per month. I was prepared to go to someone who would talk me into staying, and she sure did. She tried to upsell me on another plan! WTF? I just told her I hadn't used it since I signed up for the free trial. She asked where I bought my stamps from. I told a white lie and said that my job lets us use the postage machine because otherwise I am sure she had a rebuttal for the other answers like, "The United States Post Office" or "CVS." She then put me on hold because she had to get "approval from a supervisor" to cancel and when she came back, she tried to keep me one more time. What the freaking bloody hell? I don't even have a printer at home because it is still at Dave's house!! I really wish I could get a refund since they can clearely see there was no activity since Day One.

(Update after post- I was curious. I googled "Stamps.com Complaints" and found a crap load. Here's a very well-constructed complaint from Complaint Board)

Avoiding the Perils
So kids, the moral of the story is- free trials (which require a credit card so they can bill you after the first 30 days) can be cool and work if you end up liking the product and using it or if you remember to cancel after the trial is up if you do not think the product or service is for you. My advice is to set an outlook reminder or somehow ping yourself close to the end of the 30 days to remind yourself to cancel. The other moral to the story is to not join a gym like Odysseey in Wilkes-Barre that requires a year-contract. If you believe that you will go often ( hahahahaha), go ahead. Otherwise, you will end up like me and a few others I knew that paid for an entire year without setting foot in the place. All that wasted money. Think of all the books I could have bought!!

Some Companies Have EXCELLENT Practices- Like Blockbuster!
Ah- back to Blockbuster... now that I talk about bad practices, I must compliment their awesome customer service department. A while back, when I still lived with Dave, we both got so busy and weren't watching our Blockbuster movies in a timely manner. I went online and easily found the place to cancel. Rather than cancel, Blockbuster had an option to put the account on hold, where you could return the movies you had out at the moment and then not be charged for six months. Wow. I didn't even have to call someone or be bullied by someone like at Stamps.com. So, instead of cancelling, I decided to just freeze my account.

Well, over six months passed, and I ended up moving on my own and have been TV-less since May. I left the nice 50-some-odd-inch plasma TV with Dave because I am nice. I could have bought my own TV, but that's a whole other story about writing and self- discipline... So when I was charged last month from Blockbuster, I immediately e-mailed customer service, told them I was one of the seven Americans who does not have a TV and asked to be cancelled. They wrote me back within the hour, refunded the $14.95 and were super-nice about the whole thing. I'll tell ya what-- I had Netflix in the past two and loved them- only tried Blockbuster to compare the two. Because I had such a positive experience with them, when I do get a TV, I will sign up through them, and will recommend Blockbuster to anyone looking for an online movie delivery service. Word of mouth is the best advertising you can get- so why WOULDN'T someone strive to provide good service??

1 comment:

Dawesome said...

Nice post.

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