Date
24 January 2017
California Fitness has been accused of using its financial troubles as an excuse not to refund the victims their money for services it has failed to deliver. Photo: HKEJ
California Fitness has been accused of using its financial troubles as an excuse not to refund the victims their money for services it has failed to deliver. Photo: HKEJ

Fraud cases, unpaid wages add to California Fitness troubles

Troubled gym operator California Fitness is facing more cases of suspected fraud and unpaid wages even as its debtors are seeking its liquidation.

Lawmaker Tang Ka-piu of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) accompanied four alleged fraud victims to the Wan Chai police station on Tuesday to seek police intervention, saying the health club refused to refund their money amounting to more than HK$900,000 for services that it failed to deliver.

In one case, a man who has a condition that requires him to be on long-term psychiatric medication was forced to join the fitness center and take out a loan of HK$200,000 from a finance company to pay for his membership fees.

Tang, who represents the labor functional constituency, accused California Fitness of using its financial troubles as an excuse not to refund the victims as it has promised.

He urged the police to launch a criminal investigation against the fitness center for possible involvement in commercial fraud.

Meanwhile, six fitness coaches who resigned from the club’s Mong Kok branch in June sought the HKFTU’s assistance in filing a labor complaint against the company for non-payment of their salaries amounting to about HK$1 million.

Also on Tuesday, lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun held a press conference with some 30 members of the fitness club who are accusing the company of fraudulent practices, Apple Daily reports.

Leung also said a legal team has been formed to help club members file civil or criminal cases against California Fitness.

She said she found it highly suspicious that the company lured customers to sign up for long-term memberships at its Whampoa branch, which closed on Sunday.

Leung said she plans to meet with officials of the Commercial Crime Bureau and the Customs and Excise Department on the filing of cases against the club.

In April the Consumer Council slammed the company for misleading sales practices such as forcing customers to take out loans from financing companies to pay for their membership fees at the club.

California Fitness is operated by JV Fitness, which also runs yoga club mYoga and Leap fitness centers in Hong Kong and the mainland.

BeSpark Technologies Engineering has filed for a writ of liquidation against California Fitness. 

Details of the case are not clear, although a hearing has been set for Aug. 31.

Translation by Chloe Chow

Members left in lurch as California Fitness shuts branch (July 4, 2016)

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