A B.C. woman is sharing her frustration with the Weight Loss Grants Program, a for-profit company which pays customers to lose weight.
However, when Donna Rutten completed the program and met all her requirements, she said she faced an uphill battle trying to secure a refund cheque from the company.
“It’s like yelling down a black hole with nobody listening,” she said.
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The North Saanich resident signed up for the Weight Loss Grants Program in December 2017.
She paid $2,400 up front and was promised 80 per cent of that money back if she lost the weight.
“I had to lose 16 per cent or 20 pounds and I had to do it in a time frame that I determined I would be able to lose it in,” said Rutten.
Rutten started her program in January 2018 and met her weight loss goal ahead of schedule by September 2018.
Her doctor verified her weight loss – one of the requirements.
Once she uploaded all the documentation required to process her 80 per cent refund, Rutten said communication with the company stopped.
“Nothing. Silence,” she said.
Rutten said she tried to contact the company for weeks.
She eventually reached a Weight Loss Grants representative.
“First they told me they had an immense amount of people who lost their weight and they had so much volume that it would be longer for them to process my refund,” said Rutten.
She said the company promised her a refund cheque would arrive by the end of the year.
When that didn’t happen, Rutten’s husband posted a negative review online.
She received an immediate response from the company and was promised her file would be expedited, but she eventually hit another roadblock.
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“They had to send a verification letter to my doctor to verify that I wasn’t giving them a forged document of the weight loss and it took six weeks for my doctor to finally get that verification letter which they claim they sent three times,” said Rutten.
Rutten said she felt the company kept changing the rules on her and reached out to Consumer Matters for help.
Weight Loss Grants told Consumer Matters on Feb. 25:
“We confirmed with Donna that her supporting documents have been confirmed and her grant cheque will be mailed out this week” – George Scodras, Weight Loss Grants Program.
Rutten never received her cheque.
Consumer Matters reached out to the company a second time.
On March 27, Scodras told Global BC: “Due to an inordinate amount of fraud and false claims, our adjudication process must entail more than just ‘the receiving of documents’. Ms. Rutten’s response was satisfactory and we have since sent her cheque to her by registered mail.”
Rutten eventually received her refund cheque for $1,920.
The Better Business Bureau has given the company an “F” rating after receiving dozens of customer complaints.
“There’s either a delayed process or an extended process to get the payout or they just haven’t been getting payout at all and then there’s also no communication or difficulty getting through Weight Loss Grants Program to get updates on their payments,” said Karla Davis, manager of community and public relations for BBB serving Mainland B.C.