The latest fitness industry scam...

March 4, 2019

**A WARNING TO SELF EMPLOYED YOGA AND FITNESS FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES** (and other professions this may apply to.)

 

It sucks having to be skeptical more often than not. I’d love to go forth in a blissfully optimistic manner of peace and love and unicorns and all that dreamy, sparkly shit, but it’s just not viable if you want to safeguard yourself in this day and age as a self-employed individual.

We can be somewhat shamed, especially these days, for having such an approach - particularly also since my profession is a YOGA TEACHER. We’re supposed to be incredibly ‘flexible’ aren’t we? From our physical body to our relaxed easy-going nature to our lenient business standards, otherwise we’re fakes, simply masquerading behind this ‘zen’ disposition, right? PAHAHA! Naw.

The phrase ‘better safe than sorry’ springs to mind and sometimes that just sucks – HOW BORING! – but be assured it proves its worth sometimes.

 

So for all self-employed dudes out there just trying to make a peaceful living, pleasing every buggers demand just to get that payment – trust your gut. And stick to your guns.

 

I had a man contact me a few weeks ago asking for me to provide private tuition for the females in his family. “Hi, this is Donald. I will like to know if you still provide yoga training because I need a trainer for my family…” Instantly, his approach just seemed off to me, but attempting to reserve instant judgement and suppressing my (sometimes over-active, but usually very accurate!) tingling spidey senses riiiiight off the bat, I proceeded to converse with him nonetheless in a short but sweet manner, initially asking where he was based.

 

He replied... “Thanks for your swift reply. I am hearing impaired and this is the reason I am contacting you via email to book the sessions for my family as a New Year’s gift.” (i.e. don’t ask to call and speak to me, I now know this as…)

 

He was adamant about providing these sessions from a studio and I politely told him I don’t own or pay monthly rents to a studio or gym and he’d be best contacting one directly for this precise service – and best of luck.

 

Ignoring this, he then got back to me after a few days saying despite the fact he would love to meet me in person to chat about this further, he was now residing in hospital after being unfortunately diagnosed with lung cancer. Of course I sent my sincere apologies - the poor man. Nonetheless he wanted to provide this lovely New Year’s gift of private yoga sessions to his ‘beautiful’ family, which he provided all first names, heights, weights, injury history and birthdays for. They would also be dropped off in a private limo and then taken home in said limo. (Was this a humble dying man treating his family? Was this simply a rich man indulging his beloved family as a gift?! Whatever opinion you formed… you knew he had money, right? Right.)  

 

Facebook stalking came up short, but did they even have his surname? Maybe not. Maybe they’re above all social media nonsense. After all, my man is. Maybe they are too…

 

He then proceeded to detail his demands: I must hire a studio space or gym (safety for his family in a public space, I presumed). I was to train the ladies (all beginners) in two separate sessions per week and I was to quote him for a 12 week period, which would be ongoing throughout the year, according to him. He was just more comfortable doing it in 12 week blocks for starters. I know PTs who operate this way. It's what we want, isn't it?

He then said he was ready to submit an initial payment to secure the sessions and would submit the remainder before they started.

Thankfully, I wasn’t excited. I just KNEW something was off.

BUT THAT’S UNNECESSARY JUDGEMENT, IS IT NOT?! IF I TURNED A SICK MAN DOWN WOULD I BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING?! (and if he was legit, I was turning down a good job…)

 

I sent him an invoice, which he replied to saying he couldn’t simply bank transfer (which is how I do all my payments!) as he only had a credit card due to his current health/hospital/cancer situation (?!) He didn’t want to use Paypal either or iZettle as he “got screwed” with them before (I have both and the charges incurred are on MY side, not the client’s side of the transaction!)

But, no, he wanted me to check out World Pay as they offered much better rates. I told him I would accept any transaction charges myself, at no extra cost to him.

He said “I really do need an appropriate card machine that accepts (distance) credit cards payments.” And he would pay for the World Pay Merchant machine himself and cover my first 12 months of monthly charges, as a show of good will (subtext in my brain: for this poor little insufficient self-employed yoga teacher who can’t even conduct a payment satisfactorily!)

 

Maybe he was right… I then doubted my own understanding of card transactions etc and since I don’t own, and have never owned, a credit card myself I had to seek further advice. Was I being harsh towards this poor unwell man with no wee debit card available to him from his hospital bedside?! What a judgy bitch I was. Me and my overcautious conspiracy-theory-warped little head; I watch too many documentaries. I need to loosen up….do some yoga.

 

Maybe he’s an alien sent to test my morals.

Oh my gawd, What Would Buffy Do?

 

I was so apprehensive to cause him any further hassle in life -this unfortunate cancer-riddled man who had money, but sadly had no decent health on his side, and just wanted to be kind to his family. I just wanted to make this as easy as possible for him.

 

How do you convince people YOU'RE not the scammer, asking for up front payments etc. Maybe I should be more lenient if this is what makes him more comfortable...

 

BUT WHAT ABOUT ME?! We often forget ourselves. Funny that. Going out your way for customers is brilliant – that extra mile to remind them that’s exactly WHY they come to you - and sometimes it’s just plain stupid.

 

To trust or not to trust, THAT is the question!

 

Everyone I then asked didn’t see the issue with him simply contacting his credit card provider to set up a direct payment to me. It didn’t matter his method of payment.

 

I even phoned World Pay to investigate further into this and even THEY said it wasn’t worth my while. There was no free distance-invoicing option. Izettle, you pay ONCE for the machine and pay as you go ONLY if you have transactions and it’s already been worth it (I research this thoroughly beforehand and it came recommended by many – it’s hassle free and no I don’t work for them like this numpty probably works for World Wide Pay!)

 

World Pay was actually an 18 month fixed contract I would be entering into with monthly minimum payments that MUST be met or I would be liable for the charges myself. I remember saying to the man on the phone that, despite the fact the client had offered to pay the first 12 months of this (he made all the appropriate surprised ‘ooh’ and ‘aah, lucky you, fancy rich client you have there’ noises) I sadly don’t trust people enough to commit to this whatsoever. He didn’t argue.

 

My mind was made up. I was going to email him back to simply say – izettle, Paypal (if I must because I DO try avoid them where possible, but they ARE safe…) or bank transfer: ALL traceable modes of payment. No cash exchanging, all 100% above board!

 

HOWEVER! Before I could type up this email to Mr Landrum, I received an email from another potential client…  (refer to the photos...)

 

“Hi, this is Julliet. I will like to know if you still do PT training because I need one for my family.”

 

My eyes popped out my head as my brain made all the connections in 2 seconds flat. I indulged her, knowing exactly what was imminent…

 

“Thanks for your swift reply. I am hearing impaired and this is the reason I am contacting you via email to book the sessions for my family as a New Year’s gift.”

 

GOT YA. I’m fully booked Julliet. You arsehole.

 

The ebb and flow of life is a strange one. “It’s too good to be true” is so pessimistic. Good things DO and CAN and WILL happen for us! But how do we differentiate and keep ourselves safe? It’s a good job I don’t see dollar signs and instantly lose all sense of savviness because this would have been a PURE SHITE situation to get tangled up in when all you’re trying to do in life is make a buck and get by comfortably. Not everyone is a crooked scam artist. How do we recognise when it’s OK to trust someone?   

 

Well, you can trust me. Trust that if I ever get my yoga teacher hands on your dishonest shell I will tie you into such a beautifully impressive pretzel shape you’ll need said aforementioned hospital bed.

 

Peace out.

 

P.S. May the chocolate chips in your cookies forever turn out to be out of date raisins. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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