If there are any gym or yoga places closing in Hong Kong, chances are my sisters will be affected.
No kidding. My elder sister goes to California Fitness, which is on the brink of bankruptcy. She has a six-year membership contract.
Funny enough, she joined mYoga, part of California Fitness, right after Planet Yoga closed.
My other sister is a member of another fitness club which has been rumored to be on the brink of going under.
She does not know how many coupons she still has — but it’s a lot.
How many yoga and sports lovers are like California Fitness customers who are helplessly waiting for their favorite workout place to close its doors for the last time?
Worse, they are having difficulty finding an alternative because of the risk that the next one will also go bust.
Hong Kong’s astronomical rent is squeezing the wind out of fitness centers which typically operate on big premises.
Because of this, they have no choice but to get customers to sign multi-year contracts to ensure their survival.
We have heard many scams regarding how come fitness centers have lured every kind of customer, including the mentally disabled, to sign six-figure deals.
They then sell these installment contracts to credit card companies or banks.
That is why some fitness center customers are forced to continue paying even if they no longer get the service.
The most egregious example is that of a 24-year-old man who signed a HK$150,000 (US$19,335) contract for stretching.
These fitness centers are after all experts at manipulating consumer psychology.
Anyone who signed a multi-year contract can tell you they did so because they thought they were getting a bargain.
A regular program which would have cost between HK$500 and HK$1,000 was on sale for HK$200 but the customer had to sign up for three to five years.
Customers are particularly physically vulnerable to a sales pitch.
How many people can resist a 10-coupon offer from their favorite masseur or masseuse?
One possible excuse for turning it down, as suggested by my sister, is to say, “sorry I am retired and I need to save money”.
If you think you’ve fallen into the contract trap, you know who to call.
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