Date
28 July 2017
Many customers of California Fitness are seeking the refund of their membership fees following the closure of several branches of the gym chain. Photo: HKEJ
Many customers of California Fitness are seeking the refund of their membership fees following the closure of several branches of the gym chain. Photo: HKEJ

HKMA advises gym customers on cutting credit card payments

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has offered advice to consumers who want to terminate their credit-card payments for membership fees following the recent closure of several branches of financially-troubled gym chain operator California Fitness.

Carmen Chu, HKMA executive director of banking conduct, said a consumer who wants to terminate a credit card lump-sum payment could issue a written notice to the merchant to make a request, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Should the request not be entertained by the merchant, the consumer could provide a copy of the notice to the card-issuing bank, requesting the bank to help contact the merchant.

Even if the transaction has been completed, the consumer is entitled to a refund of the transaction amount by following the bank’s guidelines on processing a refund, Chu said.

In case of payment by instalments, a consumer could contact the card-issuing bank directly.

However, as payment by instalment is usually a loan agreement, the bank would have already transferred the funds to the merchant.

If that is the case, the cardholder is obliged to make instalment repayments to the bank even if the merchant has folded.

Chu urged consumers to find out if a merchant is trustworthy and to carefully read all documents in a transaction before signing any authorization on credit card payments.

A consumer should also find out how to cancel the payment after the authorization is effected, she said.

Meanwhile, some 50 fitness trainers employed by California Fitness said the owner of the gym chain has promised to personally foot the HK$5 million bill for the staff’s unpaid salaries.

But some employees said they fear it could just be a delaying tactic and called for a staff meeting to discuss their next moves.

The troubled gym chain’s outlets in Whampoa and Kowloon Bay have reportedly incurred debts of HK$2.47 million and HK$970,000, respectively.

The Consumer Council said it has received 256 enquiries and 88 complaints regarding California Fitness over the last four days.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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