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December 7, 2016

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Outrage after gym closure leaves its paid-up members in the lurch

A outlet of a popular gym in the city closed suddenly, drawing the ire of members who said it had failed to notify them in advance and was selling memberships days before the closure.

The Tide Caller Gym outlet sited inside Westgate Mall closed last Thursday, claiming it could no longer afford the rent at the shopping plaza. The gym allowed members to transfer to other outlets and said it could also provide refunds to members who wanted to leave, but did not do so.

It also refused to provide refunds for private coaching courses, members complained.

The gym has about 20 outlets in Shanghai, and the operation in Westgate Mall opened early this year. The rent was 480,000 yuan (US$70,590) per month, and the outlet ran at a deficit, forcing it to close, reported, citing Zhu Ying, deputy director of the operation department of the gym.

A member surnamed Zhang told Shanghai Daily yesterday that he had bought a two-year membership card and still had more than 10,000 yuan left on his card.

“Of course I am not satisfied with the solution offered by the gym,” he said. “I had no idea that the gym would close suddenly and even my private coach did not know it.”

The gym refused to offer a refund because his card was for private coaching courses.

“My company is close to the Westgate Mall, while I have no choice now but to go to its Changning outlet in the Zhongshan Park area, which is not convenient,” he complained.

Another member surnamed Liang said that she had spent nearly 3,000 yuan for a one-year membership card last month and had only visited the outlet a few times, according to

She claimed there was even a member who had been lured into buying a five-year card just four days before the closure.

About 270 members are affected by the closure, but the exact amount of membership fees involved is not known, according to the report.

Lawyers said the closure was a contract violation and compensation should be offered to the gym’s customers.

Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission said there had been numerous cases of people being cheated through buying prepaid cards for various businesses.

Sudden closure of organizations has involved gyms, training agencies and beauty salons, among others.

The commission received more than 7,000 complaints over prepaid cards last year, compared with 5,800 in 2012.

The current regulations are not effective, many complainants say. Authorities in the city are working on stronger regulations to stamp out prepaid card irregularities.


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