So it’s not like Singapore hasn’t had it’s share of rogue trainers and gyms- some had it bad when California Fitness suddenly shuttered, leaving members out of pocket and a place to workout at, with no recourse.
But at least, it isn’t as bad as what’s being reported by the South China Morning Post: apparently four gyms in Hong Kong have been accused of malpractice, specifically for forcing customers to borrow from moneylenders to pay membership fees!
Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog reprimanded SML Studio, Fitness Express Company, and A Plus Fitness in Mongkok, and Legend Fight and Fitness in Causeway Bay, according to the report, and pictures and captions also indicated one of the gym’s employees was threatening to call the police when asked about aggressive sales practices at the gym!
Consumer Council CEO Gilly Wong Fung-Han said:” Sales staff would listen into a conversation with moneylenders, aiming to find out the limit a customer could borrow and total amount of their assets, to create a personal package.”
Antonio Kwong Cho-shing, chairman of the council’s trade practices and consumer complaints review commitee, said the way these rogue gyms would act was to have staff asking potential members to fill out a questionaire, often saying it was their last of the day, before luring them to a nearby centre. Once inside, the sales team would take over and coax targets to hand over their credit and ID cards, to draw up a contract and transfer funds.
Apparently 90% of the complainants are under 25 years old, some mentally disabled, with complaint cases involving around USD $5,000 on average.
The most jaw-dropping case involved A Plus Fitness, in which a 42-year-old complainant who suffered from white matter lesions that affect the brain, bought a 15-year membership and 1,050 private coaching sessions over a period of four months, reaching a sum of USD $223,000!
By Kelvin Tan, Editor for Men’s Health Singapore