I might mention on other article that I actually take golf as my “official” sport. Hence, that will involve a golf club and its membership. Just happen to me, I see that there is something strange on membership scheme that I cannot comprehend in any angle at all: from business perspective, from membership perspective or even logic. You might be surprise that this scheme is not uncommon here. It could be running in yours as well.

Background

Golf HoleI am member of one of great Eastern Suburbs golf club in Sydney (at this stage I make the name of the club anonymous ). A few year back our family decided to move further west to get our first step of the great Australian dream: having our own home and we move further west. After a year there, it turns out that driving almost around 100km return for a round of golf is rather tiring, so I decide to put my membership on hold and play nearer course instead. Yes, there is a scheme to put my membership on hold for a few years, so I don’t lose my joining fee when I want to go back to your club later on. And there starts this story.

The Bungle

Let say I pay $150 per year for holding the membership, while the full member rate is $2000 per year (Yes, the number is not the real one for anonymity, also I drop all the frills: house fee NSW GA affiliate fee, etc for simplicity). And also let say the membership year is fixed from January to December (all member have the same membership period).

So, by paying this $150 I am entitled to not paying my full rate for 12 months without losing my joining fee (no need to pay joining fee again when I become active member again next year). Let us also say that after 6 months of holding off my membership, I cannot stand it anymore, I want to go back and play in the club again. The question is how much now I have to pay to become active again?

Well, when I ask the question before, the answer is “it will be pro-rated”.  So, I make a quick calculation: (6/12) x $2000 = $1000. Guess, what? Nooooooo…

I was asked to pay: $2000 – (6/12) x $150 = $2000 – $75 = $1850 for 6 months membership -or- $308 per month. While the standard rate is $2000/12 = $166 per month. They do the pro-rata calculation only on the holding fee and refund the rest, but the full year rate still need still to be paid in full. WTF ?

Let’s do another extreme example: let say I want to be back at the club at November (leaving only 2 months on that year’s membership cycle), how much I have to pay? Yes, you get it right: $2000 – (2/12)x$150 = $1,975 -or- $987.50 per month for 2 month membership… Who want’s to pay $1975 only for 2 months while other pay $2000 for 12 months?

The more normal approach will be (2/12) x $2000 = $333 for 2 months – may be plus some $50 administration fee or something.

Strange Policy, Arrogant or Just Silly ?

I ask that question “Who want’s to pay $1975 only for 2 months ?” to that officer from the club that attend, and his answer was “I would advise that you just wait another 2 month before activate your membership back” … Haloooo ????  In other words, the club prefers to get only $150 from holding fee rather than $483 ($150 holding fee + $333 2-months membership) –  more than 300% income from that member.

halfgolfballI also asked, why the club having the policy. And listen to the answer… which is “to be fair for the rest of the member“. To tell you the truth the the lamest excuse I can even thing of. The club is saying since active member pay $2000 for 12 months membership, then it is unfair for them if other member who only enjoy half the membershipperiod (6 months to pay only half. Can somebody tell me where is the logic here ?

And it become more absurd when he added “what if someone have some financial difficulties or something that want only to pay half for half year, it’s not fair for others” – Well, again absolutely against any sane thinking: when the club agreed to be paid $150 holding fee , the club giving the member a pause of membership due for the full 12 months. If that member  wants to return to the club before 12 months, that a bless for the club as additional income is the direct result. As for the fairness, what kind of fairness more fair than “half benefit, half pay – full benefit, full pay”? Furthermore just at a matter of “financial difficulties”, what wrong if a sport club is helping member that is under financial difficulties? – unless of course if the purpose of the club is to rip-off member.

From commercial/business point of view, this matter also really out of the norm. Since when, a commercial entity refuses to get some more income that not only legal, but also show the spirit of fairness and even sportsmanship more than anything else….  I really cannot understand.

Conclusion

I would say that the whole policy about this issue is not only strange, silly and arrogant with it could violate some fair trading rule (Although I have not check with fair trading as yet – I’ll comeback with it later here). For me, I don’t want to pay that extra premium rate that they want to rip-off from member, I just wait the next cycle. I just can sigh: $1000 is Better than $150, Silly!

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