The D.B. Cooper Experience

Cruise control is a great feature for a long drive on a straight stretch of highway.  Saves gas, controls your speed and lowers driver fatigue on a long trip.  Similarly auto-pilot is a handy feature that brings safety and consistency to air travel and, like cruise control, it probably  makes for more effective pilots.  But these handy features still need drivers and pilots to be keenly attentive to even the slightest change in the road or skies. If they don’t pay attention disaster is inevitable.

The owner of my gym has apparently put his business on auto-pilot.  He’s purchased some equipment, hired some marginally capable employees, outsourced his billing and accounting, hit the cruise control button, and parachuted to safety far away from his customers.  And, he left no forwarding address. Like D.B. Cooper who hijacked a plane, extorted $200,000 and then parachuted out of the plane never be found, the owner of my gym has taken my money and run.  And he is probably not even aware he did this.  While on cruise control his business double charged my credit card for my monthly membership fees.

Mistakes happen – it’s understandable.  What is not understandable is why no one in the “chain-of-command” is willing or able to give me the name and phone number of the owner.  Apparently it’s classified information.  In fact the gym manager told me he “was not authorized to give out that information”.  When I pressed he told me that even he didn’t have that phone number.

While frustrating, this customer experience has served to illustrate how too often local businesses are willing to push the cruise control button.   Further, it represents the lack of respect they have for their customers and that they simply take us for granted.  Would they set their car on cruise control with their child in the back seat and then nod off to sleep?  Or would they keep their hands firmly on the wheel and eyes on the road to make sure that their precious cargo had a safe ride?  In the case of customers a consistently safe ride creates confidence and loyalty.  This  recent experience with my gym is a great example of how auto-pilot can kill – kill customer loyalty that is.

D.B Cooper has never been found – dead or alive.  But I will find out who owns Anytime Fitness in Livermore, CA.  Game on!

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