Latest News

Back to Latest News back

 

Hong Kong Consumer Council slams California Fitness for aggressive sales practices

Hong Kong Consumer Council slams California Fitness for aggressive sales practices
June 3, 2016

Hong Kong-based gym chain California Fitness has been named and criticised by the Hong Kong Consumer Council (HKCC) for deploying intimidation and misleading sales practices to press consumers into purchasing memberships and high-priced private lessons.

HKCC Chief Executive Gilly Wong Fung-han advised that the naming was a “necessary move” in response to rampant sales practices and “uncooperative attitude” by the fitness operator.

As reported by the South China Morning Post, the move is the first time the Council had publicly named a fitness centre brand,

Wong explained that complaints against California Fitness “showed no signs of decline after we met with the management in January to express our dissatisfaction against their continued undesirable sales tactics”.

She added that sales practices has since became more aggressive.

In 2015, the number of complaints lodged against the fitness chain increased by 30% to 296 cases, comprising 51% of all the complaints the Council received.

A total amount of HK$8.5 million was involved in the cases against California Fitness, a 20% increase compared to the previous year.

Among the complaints against the chain, 22 cases involved over HK$100,000 each. In one case, the involved amount was as much as $570,000.

Half of the complaints against the gym chain came from new members, who claimed they were pressured or misled into signing membership agreements.

One of the most common sales practices was to lure new customers from the street with lucky draws or free trials. Several staff would then take turns to hard sell memberships and courses for two to three hours, according to the council.

Some staff members also asked new members to enter their bank cards’ personal identification numbers for “identify verification purposes”, then completed transactions without their consent, some complainants alleged.

Even existing members were not immune to the dubious sales tactics.

In one case, a complainant with a seven-year membership was persuaded to purchase private classes worth as much as HK$550,000. But the centre required members to use those classes within a short period of time. When the complainant asked for a refund of HK$200,000, the centre refused, and agreed to pay only HK$120,000.

The Council reminded gym users to avoid signing too many contracts that would lead to losses if they could not complete classes within a limited time period.

It also called for legislation to introduce a cooling-off period as a way to safeguard consumer rights.

The Council urged the Hong Kong Government to take urgent action to study the legislation, as the intimidating and misleading sales practices deployed by the fitness and beautify industries had become more rampant in recent years.

California Fitness operates nine centres in Hong Kong, where it is the second largest gym chain in the city, along wil clubs in Mainland China and Singapore.

17th December 2015 - HONG KONG FITNESS COACH JAILED OVER HK$1.4 MILLION CREDIT CARD FRAUD

14th July 2014 - SINGAPORE FITNESS CLUBS HIT BY COMPLAINTS

6th December 2010 - CALIFORNIA FITNESS’ LATEST HONG KONG CLUB

26th October 2010 - WORLD GYM ACQUIRES CALIFORNIA FITNESS IN TAIWAN


Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

VLOCKER

Vlocker Pty Ltd has been designing, manufacturing, installing and servicing locker systems worldwide since 1995. Vlocker specialises in providing locker solutions to suit client requirements in…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Safety / Security / Venues

 
 

THE FITNESS GENERATION

The Fitness Generation is now part of NovoFit - see www.ausleisure.com.au/suppliers/novofit/

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness

 
 

Enta Australasia

As of the 1st July 2018, Enta Australasia Pty Ltd/Best Union has been rebranded as VIVATICKET Pty Ltd.  Click here to view the VIVATICKET Pty Ltd listing.  19th July 2018 - ENTA…

read more

Technology / Ticketing / Venues

 
 

Perfect Gym

Perfect Gym Solutions is a software as a service (SaaS) solution purpose-built to service the fitness industry, with over 1000 clients servicing over 2 million gym members across 40 countries making…

read more

Access / Fitness / Marketing / Recreation / Technology

 
 
 

HYPOXI Australia Pty Ltd

HYPOXI®  is one of Europe’s most successful health and weight loss studio concepts.  It’s the first weight loss technology to incorporate exercise with advanced vacuum and…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness

 
 

PlayRope

Playrope Aqua-Fun, are the Australian & New Zealand exclusive distributors for Vortex Aquatic Structures International, the world leader in aquatic playgrounds and urban water landscapes.…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Parks / Play / Recreation

 
 

Tim Batt Water Solutions

Tim Batt Water Solutions are at the very forefront of the commercial aquatic business in Australia, with over 30 years specific experience supplying and installing chemical control and dosing…

read more

Aquatics / Environment / Recreation / Technology / Venues

 
 
 
 

get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business