One last thought about suggestion boxes. Why don't we just call them what they really are — a complaint box. A look through just about any fitness facility's box shows far more complaints than suggestions. Now don't get me wrong; the impetus for many suggestions arises from a complaint. However, a complaint without a proposed correction is by no means a suggestion.
Take for instance the complaint box of a recently acquired health club that was stuffed to the rim with what were supposed to be suggestions*. A closer look showed nary a one listed — except for several that suggested the company sell it back to the original owners, that is.
By far the most common comment referred to a change in the amenities since the new owners took over a few months before. Considering the club is in a very high-end part of town, you would think that for most members, this now missing amenity would seem minor. The 50 complaints in the box, however, would prove otherwise. Perhaps the most emphatic one of the batch sums it up best:
“While I appreciate the new equipment and the upgrade in the staff, — all at a reduced rate — I am afraid I will have to cancel my membership if you do not bring back the free coffee and bagels. I find it hard to come here first thing in the morning without my breakfast.”
Now, considering this club is less than a quarter of a mile from a Dunkin' Donuts, the desperation (and desperate need to find a new club) may be a bit overdone.
At a different club, several hundred complaints were received about the pool being cloudy. Of course most of them came from one member who decided the pool was too cloudy for “swimming” laps (described by one lifeguard as a splashing, thrashing stroke with minimal forward progress). His complaints were taken to heart until the manager wised up and realized that the man who left the bulk of the notes would write them on his way into the club before even getting changed into his way-too-small Speedo.
If he made it to the locker room first, he could have added a litany of complaints that overflow most complaint boxes: “The towels are too small,” “the locker room is too cold” or the one right under that one in the box, “the locker room is too hot!”
And those are just the most common ones (we won't even get into the ones that have to do with steam rooms and saunas, which are numerous and often kind of gross).
But, regardless of the absurdity of the complaint or suggestion, one thing all fitness facility managers and owners come to realize is that there is no use complaining about them, because you'll never be able to please everyone. In fact, you'll be lucky if you can please anyone. Now that's something to complain about!
*Sadly, none of the complaints in this column are made up or exaggerated. All examples are actual complaints garnered from several health clubs and countless complaining members.