Dear Editors,

Please help to sign the petition to help the victims to get back their refund!

Purpose of petition – The primary purpose of this petition is to request the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s assistance in getting California Fitness Singapore to give pro-rated refunds to its victims.

California Fitness has fraudulently obtained membership fees by legalistically exploiting the terms and conditions of a contract that is inherently unethical.

The secondary purpose of this petition is to raise awareness amongst consumers regarding the dangers of committing to contracts offered by unscrupulous business operators such as California Fitness Singapore. Sudden closure of main branch California Fitness Singapore closed their main branch at 391A Orchard Road, #08-00 Ngee Ann City, 238873 on 5 February 2016. The company only gave two weeks notice. The company gave no explanation for the sudden closure. The company does not have plans to re-open a branch in a similar location. Bad business practices California Fitness sells memberships based on pre-paid contracts. The terms and conditions of the contract contains a legal loophole in California Fitness’ favour. A clause in the membership contract states that California Fitness is not obligated to refund payments if they are able to reallocate members to a club within 10km in the event of closure.

While not illegal per se, the way California Fitness has chosen to conduct itself constitutes bad business practices by deliberately betraying misleading consumers based on a contractual technicality. Both new and existing customers have been defrauded by California Fitness’ unethical action. New and renewing members defrauded Members who signed new contracts or who renewed contracts specifically for the Orchard branch were deliberately not forewarned of the impending closure prior to signing new contracts. Sales staff have been selling memberships to the Orchard club right up to the very day of the announcement!

California Fitness knowingly sold contracts based on the understanding that the Orchard club was the main or only attraction for these victims, then proceeded to close the club immediately after. The victims of this underhanded sales tactic now have no legal recourse to getting refunds. Admittedly, California Fitness has compensated for the closure of the Orchard branch by granting access to other branches.

However, please take into consideration that many of these new victims expressly made it clear to the sales staff prior to signing up that they only required access to the Orchard Road club and had no need of any of the other locations. While not illegal per se, California has deliberately misled the customer. Existing members shortchanged Existing members of the club committed to memberships based on the understanding that they would be able to access four clubs. With the closure of the main club, existing members have in essence paid for four clubs but now only have access to three.

Moreover, the reduced quantity of facilities are now shared amongst even more customers. Admittedly, the terms of California Fitness’ membership contract promises access to all clubs rather than specifically four clubs. While not illegal per se, this is clearly a deliberate exploitation of the terms of the contract at the expense of the customer. Complaints to CASE Many victims have already lodged individual complaints with the Consumer’s Association of Singapore (CASE) against California Fitness on this issue. California Fitness has refused to meet with CASE’s officers for mediation.

Call to action We hereby call upon the Ministry of Trade and Industry to intercede on the behalf of California Fitness’ many victims. A precedent needs to be set in order to prevent unscrupulous businesses such as California Fitness from soiling Singapore’s reputation as a world-class commercial hub. In order to maintain Singapore’s status as a global centre of trade and industry adhering to the highest ethical standards, companies such as California Fitness should not be allowed to exploit consumers’ trust by conducting themselves in such a blatantly unethical and fraudulent manner.

Pissed Off Customer
A.S.S. Contributor

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