Saturday, July 18, 2020

LA Fitness Billing: A Horror Story

I've been a member of LA Fitness on and off since around 2001.  While their gyms are convenient, the business practices are inexecrable. (Note, "inexecrable is the adjective meaning "like excrement" or "shitty").

This time, when the pandemic hit in March, I logged into my LA Fitness App to find out how to cancel my membership. There's no way to do it. So I did five things:

  1. I used the email and contact us box provided and sent half a dozen cancellation messages.
  2. I called all the LA Fitness numbers that I could find, waited on hold, and ultimately left verbal messages that I was canceling my membership.  I left my membership ID and name etc.
  3. I changed the credit card number that they had on file to something nonsensical.  Actually, I tried to do this and I don't think I could because unless they approve the credit card info you put in, it defaults to the previous credit card record.
  4. I cancelled that credit card (which was actually an accident since I lost it).  However, somehow LA Fitness still managed in May and June to start billing my new credit credit including not just for me, but for a family member whose membership we had cancelled years ago.  So I went in thru my American Express App and ...
  5. Told Amex to NOT accept any more billing from LA Fitness.
The only phone number that LA Fitness has for me is a home number which nobody answers. They call there all the time leaving messages to call them. Just for giggles, I think I'll call them back  First, I need to put my iphone on "Hide caller ID" so they don't get my mobile number.

One of the funny things about my experiences with LA Fitness is that the people are really nice but it's the system which is so sucky. I think of times that I've walked into LA Fitness to cancel the extra family members on my account and "Nobody here is authorized to remove people from your account. You need to call corporate to make such a change."  BUT, I say, I just spoke to corporate and they said that this could be done in person at a LA Fitness location."  Oh really, let me check. Then they get on the phone and computer and work diligently for awhile but eventually come back with: "There's no way I can do this, you need be here with the General Manager is in. He's here 8-4, can you come in then?"   The people are so nice but it's a total run-around.

So now I'm on the phone, having returned one of the dozen answers on my home answering machine speaking to an extremely nice young lady.  She, after a few minutes, couldn't find my account under the phone number that they had been calling or my barcode ID. "Do you have any other phone numbers that it might listed under?"

What a sweet innocent question! Or is it? Was she really just trying to get my mobile phone number so they could further call and harass me? I suspect the latter but I don't know since I declined to give it. Eventually, she claimed that I had to be passed to a manager.  Wait wait ring ring.

I'm now talking to another lady. Experienced. Also very nice. Again, she's pointing me towards solutions that are in my case, a dead-end. In this case, she sent me the cancellation form which has to be sent it.  Actually, not the form but I link to their website to login and get the form.  But since I don't have a login and password, I need to go thru the ID Security / recovery process. It means knowing that account number is the same as barcode fitness ID.  We figured that out. Now I need the first five numbers of my "billing account". 

In my case, this is a show stopper since I no longer have that credit card. I lost it a few months ago (which I liked since I'm trying to shed a number of recurring billing accounts like LA Fitness which have proven hard-to-shake".  I know the last four numbers (which are onfile at LA Fitness but not the first five.  I explain this to Nice Experienced Lady with whom I slip from being courteous to calling her Honey.  She corrects me pointing out that it doesn't sound right to her. Good for her. I apologize and decide to be a little less of a jerk on the phone with people.  

Finally, the nice lady at LA Fitness emails me the customized cancel form which I use to cancel. I hope I do. I also urge her to stop having all those people call me to go after the $64.89 that LA Fitness claims that I owe them for June.  I ask who they are and she confides that all the front desk people can get $5 by cleaning up (collecting?) the unpaid amounts on existing accounts.  


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Industry Standard Monthly Credit Card Decline Rate

Doesn't anyone publish each month the credit card decline rate? They should, we'd all use it.

To explain...
I run an online consumer subscription which lives in the $20 per month world. Every month, sadly, some number of credit cards get declined.

Some months it goes up, some months it goes down. I often wonder if this has to do with something about how we, or our processor, are handling credit cards. But, if there were industry standard rates being published, we could see how we are doing vis a vis the industry.

Of course, to do it right, they could get increasing granular distinguishing between decline rates for debit cards and credit cards.  And for credit cards by different categories, perhaps by credit limit. Or some other segmentation. 

Does anyone know of such a thing?

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Recurring Payment Subscription Business Optimizers

You are not alone. Here are some vendors with real expertise, and useful newsletters, on subscription based online businesses.

Recurly - Credit Card Processing for recurring

 Zuora - credit card processing for subscriptions

Chargify - Another merchant vendor with subscription expertise

Mequoda - A complete system to digitize content, build paywalls, establish pricing systems, and build a subscription business.

Optimizely - Great system for optimizing sales funnels for subscription businesses.

Chargebee - Pricing Help for Subscription Businesses
Fusebill - Another vendor of Pricing Help for Subscription Businesses

Card Not Present - Website and info service with conferences
Merchant Card on Subscription Billing from CNP

Credit Card Conferences 2019

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Credit Card Declines are LOST Revenue from failed payments

I'm reading more from Recurly's website, here's some info on loss from recurring credit cards that get declined.  There are strategies to address the likelihood of credit card declines both prior to trying to run the credit cards (ie updater) and after they've been declined (what's this called again?)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Credit Card Account Updater

The account updater is a service for vendors that run a monthly billing subscription service.
This is a service provided by some credit processors that tracks changes, such as new expiration dates, and updates the records before the attempted billing fails.  It works on  MasterCard, Visa, and Discover cards. 
An account updater usually has some costs associated with it. They run the updater across all the cards and either charge per card monitored or by changed made.  It works on both   subscribers credit and debit cards.
This is one way that companies improve their processing and results for recurring transactions.  


Recurly sent out a great newsletter and I learned a new term: Dunning.
Dunning stands for Delinquent User Notification. Generally, it refers to sending emails or other communications, on a predetermined schedule, to subscribers when their payment fails.
Different businesses or different subscriber segments will have different responses to dunning, so it's important to constantly test and optimize dunning schedules and email content. In general, subscribers are more likely to respond to dunning emails that are customized to match the brand’s voice. Conveying urgency in each subsequent dunning email and presenting a clear call-to-action are also important for encouraging the subscriber to update their payment method.
To maximize its effectiveness in recovering revenue, the dunning process should function independently from the retry process.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Publix Credit Cards: Slow!!!

I've had a fascinating week with credit card readers. I went to Publix several time. I use an Amex card with a chip.  The Publix experience takes about 25 seconds. I mean once the cashier is finished, I put in my Amex card in the slot and have to wait 25 seconds for it to get processed.

This was really annoying at first since that's a long time to stand there when there's a line. But we got use to the new slower technology.

This week however I started shopping at Fresh Market. It's about half a mile from the Publix. Note that this is in Ft Lauderdale on US1 between Oakland Blvd and Commercial Blvd.

the Fresh Market processing of the same Amex card takes less than a second. Less than a second. That feels fast. It's like using Apple Pay.

What possible reason is there for Publix's processing to be that slow? IS it just lousy lousy lousy IT and programming? Probably.

Could it be that they are doing a financial check that the other stores aren't? I doubt it but possible.

Publix? Care to comment?