An Auckland gym has been accused of lashing out at a potential customer who was seeking a trial period.
Auckland resident Jed Misa messaged BTS Gym in Mt Eden this week, asking if he could look around the gym before deciding if he wanted a casual trial.
After initial interest in Misa's request, the gym lashed out at him, when he was puzzled at their trial rate.
In images obtained by the Herald, the gym told Misa to "eat s**t" and called him a "c**k sucker".
Misa, who works in social media, wrote: "Hey team, do you guys do trial memberships? I work just down the road and would love to trial out your gym."
The gym responded: "Hi Jed. We offer a casual rate of $18 for your first visit, with your 2nd visit for free. Please bring a workout towel with you when you come down. Cheers."
Jed then asked: "Is there any way to just take a look at your facilities rather than commit to working out there? I'm not keen to pay $18 ahead of not seeing the equipment. Feels like a bit of a backward trial process."
The gym's tone soon changed, making a snarky comment before diving into a disgusting jibe at Misa.
"You asked about trial memberships initially, not just coming in to take a look at the equipment. You can pop down to the gym anytime to take a look around - that's free. If you're not interested in paying for a casual workout then that's entirely up to you... backwards or not."
Jed responded: "Nice customer service. No wonder you guys have such a bad rep around here."
The gym's response suddenly escalated, writing: "Eat s**t c**k sucker".
Misa couldn't believe BTS Gym's aggressive response.
He told the Herald he realises his back-handed comment may have triggered such response, but he believes the issue is the gym owner, not the employees.
"I work close to BTS so thought I'd see if the gym was appropriate for me. But the response I got was crazy," Misa said. "It went from zero to 100 pretty quickly.
"I've heard from other people that the issue is the owner. He seems to carry some type of ego. Many of the staff are lovely but others I've spoken to think the root of the poor customer service experience comes from the owner.
"All I want is an apology and for them to think about how they treat customers and potential gym users."
The Herald has made numerous phone calls, left voice messages and emails with BTS Gym, however, they it has yet to respond.
BTS Gym says on its Facebook page that it offers a "unique club atmosphere with a relaxed, safe and friendly environment. There is a great club feel to our gym that you won't find anywhere else. We pride ourselves on being different than the commercial, franchise type gyms…we take the time to get to know you and remember your name and we will go the extra mile for you."
The gym appears to have removed reviews and negative comments from its Facebook page after members of the public gave BTS numerous 1-star ratings following their response to Misa.
It has also disabled the ability to message it via Facebook and has disabled the ability to comment on posts.
Many disgruntled members of the public have now taken to Google to express their outrage at the gym's comment.
"Disgusting customer service after verbally abusing a potential client after enquiring about a trial. No excuse for the vulgarity, just because someone wants to check out equipment before paying an $18 casual visit fee? Currently on the look out for a gym after having been with Les Mills and Strongside Gym (both exceptional gyms with awesome customer service) and 110% certain that I will not be checking this place out ever. Would rate less than ZERO stars if I could," one person said in their 1-star review.
Another wrote: "Horrendously bad service and extremely rude staff. They have no concept of customer service and will respond to you in a rude and unprofessional way for asking a simply question about their gym. Would rather climb Mount Everest for exercise than go to this gym."
It's not the first time a New Zealand gym has been under fire. A Wellington transgender woman said in May she was discriminated against by a gym that described itself as "for all women".
Penelopy Mansell has spent years transitioning to becoming a woman under New Zealand law, having been through court procedures to legally change her gender to female on her birth certificate and all other legal documents.
She says she went into Revive Gym on Willis St, Wellington, to ask about membership prices and potentially join. However, she says she was turned down by the first staff member she spoke to.
"I talked to a lady there who launched straight into questions. She said 'I'm sorry, I'm gonna have to ask you if you are transgender'," Mansell recalled.
"I thought that was inappropriate. She said it was the company's policy that transgender people are medically authenticated."
Mansell explains that the gym wanted to see a medical document certifying that she'd had sex reassignment surgery, which she hasn't had because, she says, the waiting list is decades long.
Revive gym has told the Herald it will look into its policy after Mansell's experience. "We would firstly like to apologise for any harm our current policy has caused. The policy has been in place for a long time, but we acknowledge that this is no defence, and however unintentional it may have been we accept that it may be hurtful to those who are excluded by it," Cherie Cooper, area manager for Revive Fitness said.
"We know that this is a sensitive matter, and to that end, as a business we are urgently reaching out to organisations within the Wellington GLBTI community for guidance and advice to review our policy and ensure that our gyms are a safe and comfortable environment, and an inclusive and understanding community for all women."