I don't like my daughters' gymnastics studio.
By all accounts, the coaches are excellent and the facility is terrific. My dislike of the studio has nothing to do with the people who own it or work there.
It's their policies: I find several of their policies to be extremely frustrating.
For instance, they have the ability to accept monthly e-transfers for payment, yet require me to leave 12 post-dated cheques at the start of each year instead. I do almost all of my financial transactions electronically, and literally, the only reason I need a chequebook is because this training facility believes e-transfers are too difficult for them to manage.
They include a clause in the girls' gymnastics contracts that specifies all families are required to participate "in the planning and execution" of a competition they host at their facility, and that "if participation is not met or family has chosen not to participate", the "buyout" is an exorbitant $500 per child. Here's the really frustrating part: agreeing to these terms was expected before they could tell me the date on which the competition would be held so I could ensure we didn't have any pre-existing conflicts.*
And they are forcing my daughters to either compete in all three available competitions this year or none at all, without any explanation as to why this might be the case. One of the competitions is out-of-town and highly inconvenient for my family to schedule, but it's an all-or-nothing deal and, apparently, there's nothing I can do about it.
I find their policies to be inconvenient and annoying, and I don't understand why they exist. And yes, I've asked; the answers provided amount to "that's the way it is".
I continue to grit my teeth and write those post-dated cheques because my daughters love their gymnastics training, and they've shown some early natural talent.
But I'm ready to leave at a moment's notice.
Specifically, the moment where my daughters express an iota of disinterest in continuing with this facility, at which point I'll happily pull them out of the program.
How many of your customers stick with you because they have to, and begrudgingly tolerate terms they don't like (or don't agree with) just until they're able to find a better solution?
How many of your customers are ready to leave the second their circumstances change or a better alternative appears?
And what do you plan to do about it?
(I'm looking straight at you, banks, insurance, and telecom companies... although that's certainly not an exhaustive list.)
* For the record, I was certainly not about to commit to an unknown date that could interfere with a major family event, so I crossed out the clause and initialled it before signing and returning the contract, just as I was taught to do many years ago in my "Business and the Law" class. I don't know if they realized this or not, but the fact that I've paid several months of tuition since then and my two daughters have continued to train at the facility means this would constitute an agreement of my revised terms. I paid attention during my classes.
Also, I don't like being forced to volunteer for an event held by a for-profit facility to which I pay hundreds of dollars a month. There's certainly nothing wrong with asking for volunteers, but I find requiring such commitment from parents (i.e. clients) to be unreasonable: a for-profit facility can (and should) hire staff for their events if client families are unable or unwilling to participate.