How to escelate this too cool pool problem?
February 6, 2013 12:45 PM   Subscribe

My gym is lying about the temperature of the pool. The manager is consistently unavailable. I'm tired of being lied to / being given the run around. How can I escalate this?

I'm a member of the New York Sports Club in my area. I only use the pool there. When I joined I was told the pool is kept at 80*F throughout the year. However, for the last month the pool has been kept very, very, very cool - I'm guestimating around 72-74*F max. I have spoken to the front desk people and a manager. I've been told by the front desk on several occasions that I'm wrong, and the manager told me that he'd "look in to it." I've tried to follow up with the manager several times, but he's been unreachable. I'm friendly with several other swimmers, and we've all discussed how ridiculous it's been/is getting. A few other swimmers have complained as well, and are often told that the temperature has been checked and it's at "the appropriate temperature" or "around 80". This is bullshit. I have spent a lot of my life in the water (lakes, rivers, pools, bays, oceans) and I have a pretty good feel for water temperature.

I'd like to escalate this, but I don't know how. Do I call corporate? Send a strongly worded letter? Should I start bringing my own thermometer to the pool? I was thinking of buying a thermometer and logging the actual temperautre. Joining a different pool isn't an option.
posted by OsoMeaty to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total)
1. Facebook/Twitter. Social media is a great tool for getting attention.
2. Letter to the branch manager.
3. Letter to corporate.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:47 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

To expand on the above, bring a thermometer to the pool and take a picture of the reading, and post that on Facebook/Twitter.

I must warn you in advance however, as someone who has fought several (different) fights against NYSC, that they are a horrible company composed of horrible people. You might "win" in the end but you will not enjoy it.
posted by telegraph at 12:50 PM on February 6, 2013 [9 favorites]

Bring a thermometer each time you go and tell them pool temp, post on social media etc.
posted by leslies at 12:51 PM on February 6, 2013

I would start with the thermometer; ideally you'd photograph it every time you tested the water, unless you want to haul a waterproof camera with you I suppose you'd just write it down. If you could get another swimmer to witness, that'd be good too.

Then take that information to corporate. And social media, if you want. But gyms are ethical cesspools, so their attitude is likely that you should just go somewhere else.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:51 PM on February 6, 2013

Start by insisting that their temperature might be mis-calibrated and that they should use the one you provided. Get out of the anecdotal zone before you start bashing them on social media. If the temp is wrong, and they still refuse to heat it, then start going up the customer service complaint chain.

If it is within their parameters, try a triathlon wetsuit. They're great for swimming in!
posted by JimmyJames at 12:52 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do I call corporate?
Welcome to automated menu hell! "Your call will be answered in the order received" - or maybe never.

Send a strongly worded letter?
My father's solution; in today's world, hard to guess if you'll get satisfaction, but why not?

Should I start bringing my own thermometer to the pool?
Absolutely, and show its reading to whoever's at the front desk, every time you go.
posted by Rash at 12:53 PM on February 6, 2013

We had a water temp problem with our shower. We bought an infrared temperature gun and took photos of the temperature reading when we confirmed it was, oh, 49 degrees. It's pretty easy :)
posted by Madamina at 12:55 PM on February 6, 2013

An infrared temperature gun is a bad tool for measuring the temperature of water due to the reflectivity of water. It's usually close, but not the best.

Use a thermometer that you can actually put IN the pool.
posted by MonsieurBon at 1:46 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

I have spent a lot of my life in the water (lakes, rivers, pools, bays, oceans) and I have a pretty good feel for water temperature.

If you are a human being, you don't. Simple experiment: go into your kitchen and touch the surface of a cabinet, then open a draw and touch a spoon. Does one of them feel colder than the other? Guess what? They are both the same temperature.

On the merits, what the pool "feels like" to you is not going to convince anyone. Get yourself a digital instant read thermometer, such as is used for cooking, and check the temperature of the pool in front of a staff member.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:51 PM on February 6, 2013 [21 favorites]

I had the same problem at my gym and I fretted about finding a pool supply store where I could get a thermometer, but I remembered that I had an instant read thermometer in my kitchen. I put it in my gym bag and I've been testing the water every day for the past month. You know what? It's a half degree WARMER than they said it is. I think I'm just getting old and the cold bothers me more than it used to.
posted by CathyG at 1:58 PM on February 6, 2013 [13 favorites]

Thermometer + Log is the only way to realistically get action on this. They aren't likely to be sympathetic to it feeling too cold otherwise.

I'm not sure what type of swimming you are doing, but as it is a gym pool I doubt they will increase the temperature much above 80 or else they will be getting complaints about it being too warm from the competitive swimmers. Here are a few links that may or may not shed light.
posted by Feantari at 2:49 PM on February 6, 2013

I'll second Tanizaki's comment above. It's amazingly hard to judge temperature subjectively. Until you've actually brought a good thermometer to the pool and have a real and reliable reading you're going nowhere.

72/74 degrees in a pool feels freezing cold, by the way. This is one of those weird situational paradoxes. 72 degrees in the ocean or a lake is "oh, come on in, the water is lovely and warm!" temperature, but in a swimming pool it feels like "OMG, I'm going to die of hypothermia" when you first get in.

Another odd thing about water temperatures is that small changes are very noticeable: the difference between 80 and 78 degrees, in water, is quite marked. Until you have actual thermometer readings to point to there's no point in doing anything.
posted by yoink at 4:25 PM on February 6, 2013

If the readings show that it really is too cold - all you can do is make sure that a communication gets to the manager (email? leave a letter for him?) and let him know that you'll be discontinuing your membership if it continues to be below 80 (+/- 2 degrees, say).

They have no obligation to keep it at that temp - and they'll do what they like until they start losing business because of it. Your real mechanism for action here is leaving the club, after giving them fair chance to correct the problem.
posted by amaire at 4:28 PM on February 6, 2013

Clearly step one is to obtain some objective temperature data. I swim laps there 3-4 times a week and have been a member for about 9 months. The temperature of the pool has been remarkably different this past month.

In regards to thermometers, will just any submersible thermometer do? Or do I need something special?

I should have said, I've never made, like, a higher level complaint against a company's branch, so what I'm asking is, assuming I'm right about the temp, what does "going to corporate actually mean? Does the person I want to talk to have a title? I'm not interested in suing them or anything and I accept I might have to buy a wetsuit after threatening to terminate my membership and then not following through.
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:19 PM on February 6, 2013

And the reason I'm asking about going over the manager, is because I can't get the manager to follow up with me.

I apologize. I should have fleshed the question out some more before posting.
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:24 PM on February 6, 2013

If you have a thermometer for cooking, use that. You may need to calibrate it first (actually, I would recommend that in any case).
posted by cooker girl at 5:27 PM on February 6, 2013

This issue was resolved, although I never bought a thermometer.

I spoke to a manager in person at the club before a swim, and she apologized for the pool’s inconsistent temperatures, and said they had recently upgraded some equipment and the pool’s thermostat had not be properly set. The pool felt significantly warmer than it had for a while that day, and has remained comfortable since.

I heard from another swimmer that a couple parents from the club’s swim lesson program complained as well because of how their kids complained about the water being cold.
posted by OsoMeaty at 7:00 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

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