Thursday, July 09, 2009

The rewards of friendship

I am always on the look out for good offers.

Gyms are of course often keen to encourage their members to introduce their friends to the joys of gym membership and often offer incentives – eg if one introduces a mate to the gym and they sign up you will receive a gym bag, or some nice toiletries etc etc.

Anyway, in the past two weeks leaflets and posters have appeared in profusion at my gym – Virgin Active – that encourages us to be ‘Active Amigos’. ‘Friendship’ as they say on the front of the leaflet ‘ is so rewarding’.

So how rewarding exactly is friendship?

Well this scheme aims to get four of our friends to join Virgin Active through our recommendation.

I don’t know what the average monthly charge is for my gym, but I pay £40 and have done for years under a scheme that I signed up for ages ago that guaranteed no price increases whilst one remains a member. I assume therefore that the average charge per month is higher than £40 but let’s stick with that amount to discover how rewarding friendship actually is.

Now if I get one of my friends to sign up – and the minimum contract is for 12 months - my reward will be a water bottle. Yes! A whole water bottle all of my own! Virgin Active meanwhile would get £480. So far so rewarding.

If a second of my friends signs up my reward will be a towel. You can see that it is starting to get quite an exciting prospect now. A water bottle AND a towel! I can scarcely dream of such things. Virgin Active get £960.

Friend number three signs up (have I actually got that many friends I am just wondering?) I get a whole hour’s worth of personal training – worth £22, during which I can drink out of my water bottle, and after which I can dry myself on my towel. How rewarding is that? Virgin Active are so incredibly generous aren’t they? They get £1,440.

Anyone who has actually bothered to stick with this will be desperate to know what reward I can expect should friend number four sign up. Well I would get a whole entire month’s free membership which you may recall is for me £40. Now you are talking Mr Branson pal! Virgin Active would get £1,920. This scheme is clearly very rewarding indeed – for some company of other.

As you can imagine I was completely enthused when reading about how friendship was so incredibly rewarding and how I stood to receive a water bottle. I was therefore all set to start work on coercing four unsuspecting mates to join Virgin Active – they would not need to know there would be SO much in it for me. But hang on just one moment. What are these dreaded words I see? 'Terms and conditions apply.’

I check out the small print to read that ‘All prizes must be redeemed before 30th June 2009.’
(My highlighting - not theirs.)

So actually should (in a parallel universe where the impossible is possible) four of my friends to actually take up gym membership at my recommendation Virgin Active would get £1,920 – and I would in fact get, rather than the as advertised practically fuck all, absolutely fuck all.

A truly brilliant marketing ploy wouldn’t you say?

Post script.

Bizarrely this post has today attracted numerous visits from the same IP address. Mr Branson is it you? If it is you and you are concerned that I am pointing out just how crap this offer is, please note that I am open to bribery and can easily be persuaded to say how great Virgin Active offers are for a sum of money to be negotiated. E-mail me!


Karen said...

It annoys me when people forget to take offer posters down. But you could actually get them to give you sthe stuff as they are still advertising it. Like if you buy something that displays the price tag of £10 and when it goes through the till it's £20, they can only charge you £10.

Gill said...

You can see why Richard Branson is so rich and the rest of us aren't. Crafty old git!!

J.J said...

The thing with this one Karen is that the posters and leaflets never even appeared till the 29th June. And each day this week there has been a leaflet in each locker. It's ridiculous!

Gill - that is obviously where we have been going wrong. An inability to get something for nothing from others!

trousers said...

If it is Mr Branson that has come to view this site, now's your golden opportunity to ask for a water bottle.

jay said...

Oh yeah. I've done the gym thing - we were members for years. Then we discovered several things:

They keep producing offers which make their loyal members look like idiots for paying too much money - when we left about a year ago, we were paying £45 a month each, but new members were being enticed for much less - however, to prevent people from leaving and then immediately joining again with smaller fees, they had all kinds of safety nets built into the small print.

It was also considerable cheaper if you DIDN'T pay by direct debit, which was sneaky and they didn't tell you, naturally.

The 'join a friend' offers have always been crap.

All the good classes were NOT included in the 'off-peak' membership option.

And finally, it was actually cheaper to buy the equipment and instal it at home, where we do actually use it pretty much every day. LOL!

That wasn't Branson's place, BTW.

J.J said...

Trousers - a gold plated water bottle at the very least!

Jay - with many organisations there are lots of great offers for new joiners - whilst long standing members or customers are being ripped off on a grand scale. As consumers we need to exercise our power to 'Just say NO!'

Gill said...

I just started excercising my rights as a consumer! Morrison's are being so arsey about people using their car park in Whitehaven that I have started ordering online from Asda instead. I don't see why I should shop in a place that looks like a filthy rummage sale, with narrow aisles blocked by wire baskets full of offers that catch my legs and not be allowed to leave the site to take a libary book back.

Gill said...

oh I get it now! Richard Branson and his team have solved the problem of the space time continuum that has been worrying me for ages and have some kind of time machine rigged up at the gym. Do any of the rowing machines have strange lights on them or make a tardis like noise when used?

J.J said...

Good on you Gill.

As for the rowing machines - funny you should mention it.....