Do you hear the people sing?

February 18th, 2013 · 53 comments

Cynthia in San Francisco says she was about to check the class schedule at her gym when she saw that their website was no longer operational. “There is so much YES going on here,” she says, of the screenshots she was able to grab. “I barely make it to the gym anyway and this is a great excuse to quit altogether. I’m more of a yoga person anyhow!”

Fitness SF preferred to ignore our invoices instead of paying them. As a result this website is no longer operational.

Fitness SF preferred to ignore our invoices instead of paying them. As a result this website is no longer operational.

related: The Mad Bomber

extra credit: Burger King Twitter Hacked, Turned into McDonalds []

FILED UNDER: gym · money · posted online · San Francisco

53 responses so far ↓

  • #1   Elizabeth

    Good for them! Goodness knows if one of the gym’s members didn’t pay their dues they would be barred from entering! Hope Fitness SF likes the turn about.

    Feb 18, 2013 at 1:24 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #1.1   makfan bang

      Well, it’s back up. Perhaps the developers got their well-deserved payment.
      (One of their locations is down the street from my house. I remember when they converted from Golds Gyms to much fanfare.)

      Feb 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #2   Silence

    Looks like their finances…

    *puts on sunglasses*

    …are in bad shape.


    Feb 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.1   Melanie

      +1 Internet for you!

      Feb 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.2   Rene

      Too awesome of a comment.

      Feb 18, 2013 at 6:29 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #3   Wayne

    Has this been changed since, coz I just went to what I assumed to be there website and everything looked like a normal website.

    Feb 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #3.1   FeRD bang

      Oh, I’m sure it got dealt with real fast once this started generating bad publicity. The story was picked up by HuffPo as well.

      A quick peek at the source of their current website doesn’t show any obvious signs of ownership, but the domain records for were last updated yesterday, two days after this story came out — no doubt, to wrest the site out of Frank Jonen’s control and lock him out. So, the fact that it’s no longer showing this rant also doesn’t necessarily mean they came to any sort of understanding with him, just that they took back administrative control of their web presence.

      Feb 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #4   Carol

    Two sides to every story. See the other side on Fitness SF facebook page.

    Feb 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.1   ?

      If we are to believe their post, we are to believe that this man charged only $5,000 for 6 months of work and he put his reputation on the line for no reason…

      Feb 18, 2013 at 1:59 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.2   courtney bang

      I don’t know which side is telling the truth, but I’m not really impressed that the gym aired more details instead of just saying they were hacked and the things posted weren’t true.

      Feb 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.3   Katie

      I have some doubts about their claim. If he was as horrid as all that, would he have retained the ability to redirect their domain to another site?

      I doubt the keys were handed over to a new designer. The probably just thought the ‘nerd’ would never, ever do something as public as this.

      Feb 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.4   thrall bang

      Hell hath no fury, and all that…

      Feb 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.5   FeRD bang

      Hard to say. Most of the time, when a site is passed along to new developers, nobody thinks to change the passwords. Especially not if the “owners” of the site are a non-technical business, like a gym. So it’s just as possible they had brought in a new developer, but he still had access simply because they were stupid. (As he said in his own rant, some of the logos and whatnot that he’d worked on “got replaced”. Somebody other than him did that…)

      Feb 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.6   jen

      as a previous website designer/admin, i am fairly confident the reason he was able to do this is because he had the password to the host domain. i’m certain that is being called “hacking” by the gym — not true hacking.

      if he had the domain information, then FitnessSF’s claims are on shaky ground. also, well done professional web and graphic design isn’t CHEAP. $5,000 for six months work is ludicrous.

      Feb 18, 2013 at 6:11 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.7   courtney bang

      I finally got some free time to actually read more about this and retract the part about not being sure which side is telling the truth.
      Still no way to know for sure, but I buy Jonen’s story. He even claims he warned them he was about to remove the parts he had designed, which they would have seen if they hadn’t been ignoring his attempts at communication.

      Feb 19, 2013 at 1:02 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.8   Tim

      People need convincing that some people/companies try to screw over freelancers all the time?

      The freelance/small design business has a really rough time with nonpaying clients for the exact reasons Jonen stated. Whether they’re big or small, there’s tons of people out there who think they shouldn’t have to pay someone for their work. It’s why some states in the usa are considering some new bills to protect/help freelance workers with unpaid invoices over a set amount ($600 in new york I hear).

      Jonen had me at the first word of his argument, no questions asked. The problem is just that prevalent; every single designer in the business for more than 2 years can woo you with multiple stories, if not dozens, of scumbag clients like this. There’s always the tiny chance Jonen was lying, sure, but the odds are definitely not in favor of it.

      Feb 19, 2013 at 11:58 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.9   courtney bang

      @Tim, It seems like that was to me? I was actually leaning towards Jonen in the first place for your exact reasons but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try and find out more since I was curious. There are news stories that don’t turn out like they first seem so I don’t see a problem with trying to learn more and decide for myself, no matter what the odds are.

      Feb 19, 2013 at 5:35 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.10   shepd

      Don’t even have to be in the publishing industry. My small computer store made the mistake of selling some computers to a medium-sized machine shop employing a few dozen employees. When we asked them to pay they said they’d changed names and were “working things out” so it will be several months. In the computer industry, that means we lose tons of money.

      Things got sorted out when I stuck a “PAST DUE!” sticker to an envelope, went to the place, and paraded it around all their employees asking where their accountant was because the company was having money issues and not paying for things.

      Never got any more business from them after that, but I got paid, and this was the exact result I wanted.

      Feb 23, 2013 at 11:33 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #5   jdaniel

    I never thought I would see the words “morals” and “San Francisco” in the same sentence. The rules are merely an annoyance to some classes of people.

    Feb 18, 2013 at 1:56 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #6   GA Peach


    Feb 18, 2013 at 2:11 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #7   H for Toy

    Dear Frank,

    At the end of the day, you get nothing for nothing. Sitting flat on your butt doesn’t buy any bread.

    Fitness SF

    Feb 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.1   justme

      Dear Fitness SF,

      There are children back at home, and the children have got to be fed.

      Please pay me.


      Feb 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.2   H for Toy

      Dear Frank,

      After that stunt, you’re lucky to be in a job and in a bed.

      Fitness SF

      Feb 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.3   Holly J

      Dear Frank and Fitness SF,

      Hate to tell you, but I’m the one with my hands in the butter…

      The Media

      Feb 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.4   H for Toy

      Dear Media,

      You’d be the cause, I have no doubt, of any trouble here about.

      Yours Truly,
      John Q.

      Feb 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.5   JamiSings bang

      Dear Hollywood,

      When you make a movie about this epic struggle between the little guy and the big bad corporation, make sure you cast Rufus Sewell as me.


      On a serious note, I’m team Frank. If someone does work for you and they’re not totally lazy/incompetent, you pay them. Simple as that.

      Feb 19, 2013 at 8:38 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.6   H for Toy

      Jami! You’re supposed to be singing songs from Les Mis.

      Dear Hollywood,

      At the end of the day, Rufus Sewell is hotter. Than any old actor in playing this role. Like the waves crash on the sand. Like his eyes that look into your soul. There’s a hunger in this land, to see Rufus star in this role. There’s gonna be hell to pay. If he doesn’t play.

      Movie Goers the World Over

      Feb 19, 2013 at 10:32 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.7   Holly J

      Dear Movie Goers,

      You think that Frank is me, you knew him at a glance, this stranger we have found, this man could be my chance….at an Oscar.

      Hope you like that I played him as bad ass action star. I was ready for those gym rats, they will wet themselves with blood.

      Rufus Sewell

      Feb 19, 2013 at 1:06 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #8   H for Toy

    I’m not sure what side to be on. On one hand, The Huffington Post says Fitness SF was hacked, on the other hand, back in high school, I worked for a sports card company that earned millions in their first year of business, then went bankrupt a couple years later. We contracted with a few key photographers, and exactly ONE graphic designer. The photographers never got paid, and the poor graphic designer, who had refused all other work for several years, was never paid more than a fraction of the hundreds of thousands owed him. He was a really nice guy, and I always wonder what happened to him, which makes me want to side with Frank.

    Feb 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.1   FeRD bang

      HuffPo doesn’t say “hacked”. It says, “Highjacked by Developer”. Which it definitely was.

      Feb 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.2   H for Toy

      You are right. I think someone here mentioned hacked. Either way, having worked for a company that pulled that kind of shady nonesense, I don’t find it hard to be on Frank’s side.

      Feb 18, 2013 at 6:12 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.3   Holly J

      I work for a web design company. we have it written in our contracts (which people almost never read) that after a certain amount of time, non-payment will result in the site being taken offline until invoices are brought current. This has happened more than once. People assume that because its creative work that it isn’t really work. They always refer back to their random family member who “knows how to use Photoshop” and could “do it way better.” Bottom line, they still broke their contract.

      Feb 18, 2013 at 7:18 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.4   Roto13

      ^ And obviously you should be happy just for the exposure and having your work seen by tens of people, right? Right?

      Feb 19, 2013 at 12:14 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.5   MattyJ

      I live in SF and followed this story a bit, from way back when this gym left the Gold’s family due to their donations to anti-gay groups.

      The website did not come online as scheduled after the name/company change. Apparently this Frank guy missed all kinds of deadlines to the point that the gym had to fire him and start over with another firm.

      And as someone else mentioned, if Frank is trying to get publicity for himself, good luck looking desirable to other people that might hire you. Make your deadlines, buddy.

      If I fault the gym for anything it’s that they’re in San Francisco and they went to Germany for a web designer. You can’t throw a bacon-infused donut 10 feet in this town without hitting a web designer. Not sure why you wouldn’t go local for that. Sounds like this gym would step over a dollar to pick up a penny.

      Feb 19, 2013 at 2:43 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #9   Jenn

    I’m inclined to side with the designer simply because of how common this kind of thing is. “$5000 for one website, coming up” sounds simple enough, but there’s a lot of different things that go into designing and coding a website, and a client’s demands often change over the course of the project, making the charge increase. From the designer’s PoV it seems as if the demands they made of him became too great and he fired them, making the site have to go to another firm. And yet they obviously still didn’t pay for the services they had already received. Because they are more intangible things than, say, “You’ll get an extra bundle of oranges for $500 more” they can get away with saying “You didn’t do anything that was worth an extra charge” even if it led to several extra hours of work on the designer’s part.

    After being screwed over and over again on stuff like this, designers are beginning to strike back by taking these measures. It seems sort of passive aggressive, of course (that’s why we’re here) but this is usually after months of sending invoices, emails, and voicemails asking to be paid for the work you completed. Companies often don’t pony up because they know being taken to court would be more expensive for the artist than for them, and this action is rarely taken.

    I know I’m ranting on what is essentially a comedy website but as an artist this kind of thing is a sore point for me. :P

    Feb 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.1   ?

      Not a rant, a very informative post! Thank you for your comment!

      Feb 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.2   emacb

      Feb 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.3   jen

      ah yes, love this site!

      Feb 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #10   Tard

    I’ve been a self employed engineer for 17 years and can assure you that large companies can, will and have refused to pay tiny companies such as myself on the thinnest of pretense while USING my designs! They write dense, restrictive contracts and demand venue out of state.
    Finally I’ve learned to stop dealings with them.
    If they are large enough to crush me and use out of state venue, see-ya.

    Feb 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #11   Nublet bang

    As someone who as experienced working for a small business and not being paid by big corporation, I can sympathize with Frank.

    But just looking at the situation sideways…wow! He sure has gotten a lot of publicity from this! News websites reporting on it, comedy website communities discussing it…just because of a gym website? And really, I don’t think I’ve ever even checked out my gym’s website. Maybe I’m missing something.

    Feb 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #12   sarah

    I sincerely doubt that any respectable freelancer would bother going to this much effort, and potentially branding themselves as “difficult to work with” in the eyes of future clients, for a matter that had such a grey area vis-a-vis payments and who owes who. I don’t buy the gym’s statement, especially when it comes after all the media hoopla.

    More freelancers should stand up for themselves like this—sadly, this is an extremely common problem, and when you’re a freelancer, one big non-paying client can be all it takes to tank you.

    Feb 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #12.1   Tim

      Wait, you say no respectable designer should stand up to companies, since that would possibly “brand themselves as ‘difficult to work with’”, but in the next paragraph say that more designers should do this?

      Which is it?
      Frankly, if I was owed thousands of dollars I would absolutely go to the effort of putting up a 45 minute webpage and taking down theirs. Not only would it be in my contract that I reserve the right to do this on nonpayment (obviously I would keep the domain until all services are paid, so it’s all plain and legal), but this is thousands of dollars here. 6 months of work. You don’t think that’s worth an hour of followup time? That at least a quarter to a half of your yearly income is not worth this effort? I don’t believe it.

      Feb 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #12.2   Who passed out the Haterade?

      I’m pretty sure Sarah’s first sentence is actually saying that she doesn’t think he would have done this if he didn’t have a strong case. Not that he shouldn’t have done it.

      Feb 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #12.3   sarah

      Maybe the sentence was too long and broken up. My intention wasn’t to say that a respectable designer wouldn’t do this (and I hope more start doing so!) but rather that I don’t think a designer worth their salt would put their reputation on the line if they didn’t have a good damned reason to. I would do this to a client who totally screwed me over, but not to one where I was partially at fault for the breakdown in relations.

      I absolutely, absolutely believe that freelancers should be able to do this sort of thing, and I really do hope it becomes more commonplace.

      Feb 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #13   Max

    It would be so funny right now if the webmaster of passiveaggressivenotes would post a splashpage with a totally passive-aggressive message. Maybe on April 1st? Too funny!

    Feb 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.1   TKD

      Awww, now you’ve gone and ruined the surprise.

      Feb 19, 2013 at 6:53 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #14   Will Cate

    If I was the service provider, I certainly would have taken them offline, but I might not have soapboxed about it… some clients are just deadbeats.

    Feb 18, 2013 at 9:01 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #15   Lori

    As a designer who’s had my work taken but never paid for before I’m going to have to side with the designer on this one.

    Feb 19, 2013 at 1:47 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #16   redheadwglasses

    I’ve had friends have to create website, write a PR/marketing piece, etc., as part of a job application… and then they never hear anything, but later will discover that the company used the materials they received from the fake “hiring” process.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #16.1   FeRD bang

      That’s one of MANY reasons the professional design community is against so-called “spec work”. (See also, “Design our Logo Contest!” type attempts to avoid paying actual professionals to do your design work for you.)

      Feb 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #16.2   Gina

      Now that’s just wrong! As a Landscape Designer I’ve heard of people doing something similar regarding landscape designs. We were taught never to leave the plan with the customer until it’s paid for in full. I saw this happen with a designer friend of my sisters. Her next door neighbor asked if the friend would draw up a design for him and then he claimed he didn’t like it but you could clearly see from my sisters third story deck that he had copied her design. What he didn’t know was there were details left off that initial design (engineering details) that are quite important. He didn’t get a planting detail either and that’s what you are really paying for when you hire a designer.

      Mar 3, 2013 at 7:33 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #17   Vic

    … and then I read his Christophobia rant. A real class act indeed.

    Mar 20, 2013 at 5:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #18   margaret

    This shit is so awesome i can’t even stand it.

    Mar 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up


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