Prestigious club invites great unwashed, but keeps options open

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 October, 2009, 12:00am

Was it Groucho Marx or Woody Allen who said he would never join a club that would have him as a member? That is a sentiment I totally subscribe to. I was flattered a few years ago when the Foreign Correspondents' Club - the venerable FCC where quite a few of my dearly departed drunken bosses used to pass many a moonless night - sent me a silver-plated invitation, stuffed in an expensive-looking envelope, to join.

Boy, have I arrived, I thought. Until I walked around my office and found even the office interns had received the same invitation.

It was in a similar spirit that I received 'a special offer' to join the prestigious American Club, which has facilities in Tai Tam and Central. My wife was impressed. Then we spotted the same offer in every mailbox of our housing estate. To be fair to the FCC, its offer was actually good value and came with a good discount for the full services it provided.

I can't say the same about the American Club's. For a whopping HK$36,000 a year and a monthly subscription fee of HK$2,200, you can use club facilities only from Monday to Friday, and excluding public holidays. Or the monthly fee can be reduced to HK$1,500 if you only want to visit the country club in Tai Tam during weekdays.

I called the club's managers to find out what prompted the latest scam - sorry, I mean scheme. Aren't they worried there might be too many unwashed people like me contaminating their facilities?

No, a marketing officer said, because club officials would still screen applicants.