An Open Letter to Fitness Depot Canada

April 21, 2012
All About The Fitness?
Four weeks ago I e-mailed Fitness Depot Canada's corporate office to offer my feedback about my customer experience, and a suggestion.  I have not received a reply, nor even an acknowledgement. Here is what I wrote:
Dear Fitness Depot:

If I could make one suggestion to your chain, it would be this:

(1.) Make everything on your website for sale, especially plates, and make them shippable to the closest store to your customer, corporate or not, at low/no extra cost.

Why?

My local store (Ottawa) is not corporate owned, and it's a sad experience to shop there.  I've been trying (on and off) to buy 10 pound Olympic plates since Christmas, and they can't keep them on the floor for some reason.  The excuse on the phone and in person is "They're our most popular plate," to which I reply, "So why can''t you order sufficient quantities to keep some on the floor?"

After 3 months of the same nonsense, I've given up.  I've ordered from a great competitor, and started posting my own Wanted ads around the web to buy other people's used equipment.  Sure, it doesn't match what I have, but then trying to get additional matching plates for my existing Fitness Depot plates is impossible too, seeing as the selection is so limited (and usually out of stock).

My suggestion above would correct a few things:
  1. Preserve chain loyalty — I want to know that at least corporate will commit to shipping me what I want, when I want it. Otherwise, why wouldn't I order from somewhere else? (Like I had to....)
  2. Provide incentive for non-corporate stores to tow the line — If the satellite stores knew that I could go to HQ anytime they failed to deliver, maybe they'd work a little harder at maintaining inventory.
  3. Promote uniform pricing — The Ottawa Fitness Depot store jacks the prices up on everything... an extra 20 cents a pound on plates, an extra 10 to 30+ dollars on bars... My Fitness Instructor drove to Montreal just to save on Kettlebells.  She told my whole class not to shop at the Ottawa Fitness Depot!  I nodded to everyone else because I understood her frustration.
The Ottawa store's excuse for pricing: "We're not corporate."

Anyway, sad to say I've lost my loyalty since buying my 300 lb Olympic weight set—which Ottawa doesn't offer as a set ("We're not corporate!") and had to "custom assemble" with 3 different styles of mismatched plates.  I could excuse it then because it was near Christmas, but the result would be no better today (and still wouldn't have 10 lb plates!)

Because of this, I have ordered many Olympic items from FitnessAvenue.ca... an EZ-Curl Combo bar (solid), a Tricep bar (solid), two 20" dumbbell handles (solid! 13lbs each) and a P90X chin/pullup bar.  Even with the shipping costs it was a better deal, arrived fast (2-4 days), and was always in stock.

I'm thinking about getting a Power Rack next.  Probably another sale to FitnessAvenue.

I hope you've read this, and that you're inclined to change things. If I wasn't so annoyed with you, I wouldn't bother writing, but here it is: Ottawa deserves better. Make it better, or alienate more customers. The Ottawa store (and Kanata's Fitness Depot, based on my 2 calls to it) doesn't reflect well on you, and I can't recommend shopping here in any more than my Instructor did.  And honestly, people have started asking me...
July 1, 2012 — Still no response. I found other, better competitors. I suggest you do the same.

NOTE: This entry also appears on trl.ca and additional comments may be there.
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