Less than a month after a bailiff told staff at Wellington Fitness that everyone had an hour to pack up and get out, members and staff are still left with questions about the gym’s abrupt closure.
Robert Allen tells Global News he feels “duped” after paying $500 upfront for a two-for-one membership for a whole year and then three months later, the doors where shut.
“It kind of seems fishy to us now,” he said. “What were they trying to do, get as many memberships as possible before they closed the doors?”
READ MORE: (Nov. 19, 2018) Cancelling gym memberships — How much does it cost to break up with your gym?
Allen and his girlfriend thought they were starting the new year off right when they signed up for the gym close to their home in Belmont, Ont just south of London.
“This was the closest gym to us. Other than that, we would have to go to St. Thomas or up the 401 to get to another gym.”
On Feb. 6, a notice was posted on the club’s Facebook page informing members that their memberships had been cancelled and that staff had not been notified before the closure.
The directs any inquiries about refunds to ABC Financial. But after weeks of calling, Allen feels he is no closer to getting his money back.
He said ABC Financial told him that everything would be dealt with once the owner of the gym decided what to do.
Global News has reached out to ABC Financial for comment.
On the evening prior to members being informed of the closure, former trainer Marcin Pszczola said a bailiff entered the gym and told staff they had an hour to gather their things and get everyone out.
“It was just a complete shock,” he said. “I continued teaching the rest of my class in disbelief, saying this is probably just a misunderstanding.”
Pszczola said they tried contacting the owner to figure out what to do, but no one was able to get a hold of him.
He estimated 25 employees were working at the gym at the time who were suddenly out of work without notice.
“You put all this time into a certain place, and it’s just goodbye without anything.”
Pszczola, who worked for the gym for 10 years, wishes he and other staff were given notice, so they had time to find other employment.
“The gym always had a good following and some dedicated and loyal members that were using it, but I definitely did notice a decline.”
Pszczola said he started to notice a drop in the quality of the gym, especially during the last five months, with a lot of things breaking and not being fixed.
“I was asking a lot of questions, and I kept getting told the same answer — ‘A guy is coming, but the parts are on backorder.’ I feel like it’s just something to say to cover things up.”
READ MORE: (Jan. 5, 2016) What you need to know about gym memberships in Ontario
Dan Meidinger, chief executive of the Better Business Bureau in Western Ontario, said there are some protections for people in these situations.
“If the company has not filed bankruptcy, the business is obligated to fill your order for goods and services or refund,” Meidinger said.
“Closing a business does not relieve the owner of the responsibility.”
Meidinger said that if you have a copy of a receipt and it was paid for with a credit or debit card, there may be an option to file with your bank or credit card company to dispute the transaction.
“Credit cards sometimes offer more consumer protection on purchases then debit cards do, so it’s generally better to do your shopping for big-ticket items on credit.”
Although it can get expensive, Meidinger people can always take the business to court.
Global News has made multiple attempted to contact the owner of Wellington Fitness.
Since this publication, Allen said that he contacted VISA and they were able to help him immediately and refunded him $410 for the unused portion of the membership
He also said ABC Financial contact him and said that they were not responsible for my refund and that he needs to reach the business directly to finalize membership issues.
After publication, ABC Financial’s Chief Marketing Officer, Cristine Kao, said Wellington Fitness is a client of ABC Financial, and they had no idea the gym was closing.
“We are doing the best we can to field any member issues, but we are redirecting all of that to Wellington Fitness even though, as of today, we still don’t have any responses from them.”