14 August 2006

No security at the gym

Last month, my girlfriend Liz lost her handbag at her gym. Initially, she figured she'd left it out; it wasn't in her locker when she came back from her workout.

Later while waiting at the counter to see if her bag had been handed in, another woman was waiting there. Her bag had been stolen too. Left out? No, it was definitely in the locker.

The police had been called, so Liz waited for them to arrive. She overheard the officers speaking with the gym manager.

So, is there a master key for the lockers?

Yes. All our staff have a master key.

What about when staff leave? Do you get the keys back?

No. There are lots of keys floating around.

Okay. That doesn't sound like a good situation.

Well there's nothing we can do about it!

Liz also overhead the manager say that this gym hers was the most recent of 26 thefts from lockers in the last week!

The manager then came forward to tell her that they are definitely not liable for any goods lost in the locker, and the gym had received legal advice to that effect. The suggestion of the manager ("keep your belongings with you at all times") seems even more ludicrous when you consider that Liz's handbag was stolen while she was swimming in the gym's pool.

The legal side of things I cannot comment on, but to me the gym seems to be wildly negligent on two counts:

  1. The gym distributed master keys to the lockers, then failed to take any action when the management lost track of where they were. I'm not sure what the policy was for giving master keys to the lockers, but it also seems overly broad. Surely only those who clean the lockers would actually require a master key.
  2. Even after a huge number of thefts over a period of a week, the gym did not take any action to prevent further thefts or clearly warn customers of the risk. They could have, for instance, hired a locksmith to change the locks.

Clearly Fitness First does not respect their customers or the fact that their expensive gym membership purports to include a "secure locker".