Sunday, May 25, 2014

World Health Misleading Advertising

From within the social media world, the number of people who are striving to maintain that "healthy glow", is certainly evident. There is non-stop chatter about keeping fit, eating right, doing exercises and generally, keeping in shape. And in theory, there is certainly nothing wrong with any of this.

Today's instant digital world has seen both adults and children get taken away from the good old days of family fun, outdoor play, eating right, and general overall just keeping in shape. We have become victims of the corporate advertising world. They have lead us to believe that they know what is best, with fancy marketing, smooth mellow tunes, and eye popping websites.

A while back, I started looking into some issues with respect to the World Health fitness centers here in Alberta. When I do a search on "world health" (I use Bing, not Google), right at the top the search page shows "World Health" with a link to worldhealth.ca, and subtitles under that link on the search page show many entries with respect to the Calgary location. Yet when you click on that link, you get taken to the World Health Edmonton website. There is a selection box at the top of the webpage that allows you to choose between Edmonton and Calgary though, which implies the organizations are related. Don't try to pick the "choose your city" selection because that creates a page not found error.

With the appearance that Calgary is the "head office" (from what search engines seem to imply) I contacted the Calgary location to ask them some questions about the Edmonton operations. Wow, that was a mistake! Calgary wanted nothing to do with Edmonton, and I was told that they "split up" a while back. I find it rather strange that they both use the same website landing page though.

So, what was it that started my quest? Well, on their website, way down at the bottom, is a heading called "No Contract", under a "Memberships" heading. If you are on the Edmonton page selection, they have a short blurb about how hard it is to make a commitment, and fill out this form so we can contact you. Yet it also states "membership options". So now I am confused. If "no contract" implies you can come and go, and pay certain fees for the use of the equipment... but there is that nasty word "membership". Hmmm...

Okay, so lets try this. Go back up to the top of the website and select Calgary as the choice. Same basic layout, and down at the bottom again, is the 'no contract' link under Memberships. Calgary goes into a little more detail, and even has big words saying "No Term Contract", as well as several other categories. If you click on the "get membership prices" (huh? Membership again? hmmm) they list some details (much more in-depth than Edmonton does) and then the "fill in the form" stuff, similar to the Edmonton link.

But wait! Down at the bottom, Calgary lists "The Small Print". Which says that a no term contract is actually an agreement for 26 consecutive bi-weekly dues".

How in the world can they say this is not a contract, when clearly it is!

Even more curious still, is why Calgary says that membership allows some access to the Edmonton locations, but Calgary wants nothing to DO with the Edmonton operations.

This entire situation smacks of deceptive advertising. And I know some people that have been caught off guard, especially after being asked to supply banking information for automatic withdrawals from their bank account.

So I'm calling "bullshit" to the Edmonton operations because you apparently deliberately HIDE the fact that a contract IS required. Maybe this is part of the reason why Calgary wants nothing to do with them.

With that said, I then went on a mini-hunt with some of the local twitter folks who manage fitness locations in Edmonton, because there HAS to be a place that isn't out to deceive you. One of the people I contacted was Chris Tse who is a co-owner of Blitz Conditioning. I asked him about "no contract" stuff and he responded (paraphrased) "If people want to walk in and just pay-as-you-go without signing any form of contract then they CAN do that. We don't believe in forcing people to sign contracts!"

So there ya go. You CAN get healthy, on your terms.. all it takes is a little shopping around. Don't fall for deceptive and misleading advertising. You can do it, I know you can!

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