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Woman pestered into paying US$500,000 to join Hong Kong gym

Woman pestered into paying US$500,000 to join Hong Kong gym
March 1, 2017

A 36-year-old woman paid HK$4.3 million (US$553,936) for a membership of a fitness club and 3,381 hours of personal training after being constantly pestered by sales staff.

The Hong Kong Consumer Council, which recently revealed that complaints about fitness clubs shot up 189% last year, said the amount involved was the highest it had ever recorded in such a case.

Council Chairman Professor Wong Yuk-shan said the woman agreed to the deal in 2013 and signed 54 contracts after several staff members took turns to work on her using various sales methods, such as the offer of discounts.

By June 2015, she had managed to complete only 500 hours and worked out that if she spent three hours a week at the gym it would take her 19 years to finish the sessions.

The woman then demanded the chain return about HK$3.8 million for the remaining time.

According to the Council, which declined to name the fitness centre, the woman had been pursuing her case via legal means.

Professor Wong stated “the problems with consumption with pre-payment cannot be left unsolved.

“We encourage the government to pay attention to this issue.”

Dogged by complaints over high-pressure sales tactics used by some gyms in Hong Kong, Council Chief Executive Gilly Wong Fung-han said the Hong Kong Government should study the experiences of overseas countries and introduce a compulsory cooling-off period to allow consumers to rethink and cancel contracts unconditionally for pre-paid services.

About 70% of the 1,667 complaints about fitness centres were related to the closure of California Fitness last year.

The company owed 64,000 members and 700 former employees more than HK$100 million.

But the Council found that even after excluding the California complaints, the number still increased by 16% from 2015.

Based on an article that first appeared in the South China Morning Post. Click here to view the original article.

Image: California Fitness closed all its gyms in Hong Kong in July last year.

13th September 2016 - WHILE ITS FITNESS INDUSTRY GROWS, CHINA’S 1.3 BILLION PEOPLE ARE STILL NOT GETTING ENOUGH EXERCISE

20th August 2016 - ARNOLD CLASSIC LAUNCHES IN HONG KONG

16th August 2016 - SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST REPORTS ON ‘THE DARK SIDE’ OF HONG KONG’S FITNESS INDUSTRY

1st July 2016 - FIBO CHINA TO CREATE A BRIDGE TO CHINA’S GROWING FITNESS MARKET

3rd June 2016 - HONG KONG CONSUMER COUNCIL SLAMS CALIFORNIA FITNESS FOR AGGRESSIVE SALES PRACTICES 

11th May 2016 - CHINESE SPORTS INDUSTRY TO BE WORTH MORE THAN US$460 BILLION BY END OF 2020

6th December 2015 - ACCC URGES BUSINESSES TO CHECK THAT THEIR CONTRACTS ARE FAIR

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

27th October 2015 - GLOBAL FITNESS CLUB REVENUES CONTINUE TO RISE


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