Here is a copy of an email I sent to the owner of Sweat; he has not had the courtesy to respond:
Dear Mr. Scott Caplan,
A few days ago, I received in the mail one of your "Scratch & Win" flyers. I have been thinking of rejoining a gym in the area where I live (not far from your center on Arch St. and 15th St., which would be quite convenient). I therefore decided to see whether I had "won" anything. Yes, I was a "Grand Prize Winner!" which, according to the flyer, entitled me to "6 months free, Free personal training, or 10 VIP passes, or all three."
To be certain that this "win" was legitimate, I called your company and left a message. One of your associates (I forget her name) returned my call, and she informed me that as a Grand Prize Winner I was entitled to the items listed on the mailing. I asked if there were any conditions, truly believing that I might indeed be a rare "Grand Prize Winner," and she said "only a joining fee of $149."
Today, I took time to visit your gym at Arch and 15th Streets and was informed that there were further conditions not mentioned on the mailing, namely that I would have to take out a 12- or 18-month contract at $65 or $59 per month, respectively. Neither of these conditions nor, indeed, the joining fee, were printed on your flyer.
I believe your mailing should have listed all these conditions, even in small print, on the mailing. I would imagine that it might be illegal not to do so. If not, it certainly should be! I think your mailing is dishonest and certainly is unethical -- and has wasted my time, as well.
Obviously, you have lost a legitimate customer, and I suspect other "Prize Winners" -- and friends of mine who are already members of your gym at other locations -- will be as angry, or at least as disappointed, as I am when they find out the true value of the "prizes" you have offered.