Ghosting culture has gone onto a whole new level. You may be frustrated over an unanswered question to a friend from over a month ago or your unfortunate dating attempts, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Businesses are taking on this approach, too, disappearing out of the blue and leaving their customers hanging.
This is exactly what happened with UFC gym, which had two outlets, with the second one closing for “renovation” and magically turning into an Anytime Fitness, leaving members confused.
If I paid a thousand dollars for a membership at a gym just to be played like this, I’d be mad too.
Closed Out of the Blue
After sending an e-mail to members in February that its Citylink outlet would be closed for renovations and upgrading, it appears that UFC Gym is no more as the outlet is now boarded up with Anytime Fitness signage.
According to Stomp, the Anytime Fitness outlet is expected to open in July.
A Stomper expressed her frustrations over the sudden ghosting of UFC Gym, stating that they were not to be told about its permanent closure and what was happening during the renovations.
She had also paid for a full-year membership that will end in January next year, which now cannot be utilised.
She highlighted that the members are still determining if they will be compensated.
UFC Gym had two outlets in Singapore, the other being City Square Mall. It was closed last November.
It detailed in a Facebook post that the outlet was undergoing financial difficulties and losses due to the pandemic, which led to its closure.
It was mentioned that those who had already paid for membership or services could not be refunded in cash, but the gym was working with its franchise office to allow members to use its other branch in Citylink.
It seems that the gym is really set on leaving everyone hanging as when Stomp reached out to them via phone call and e-mail, there was no response.
Its Instagram account is also inactive, with its last post being on 23 February, around the time it announced its closure for renovations to its members.
Its website is no longer available.
According to the Straits Times, some members filed reports and complaints with the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), and there has been at least one police report made.
Mr Melvin Yong, Case president and Radin Mas MP, said two complaints against the gym were filed between 1 February and 9 May.
He highlighted that members could file claims at the Small Claims Tribunal. He encouraged them to purchase shorter-term memberships or one-time use services as it may be difficult to retrieve the amount spent on long-term memberships in the event of a sudden closure.
Some members paid up to $3,800 for membership and personal training sessions.
One member, Mr Tung Ka Wai, told Straits Times that he had filed a claim on the Community Justice and Tribunals System portal regarding the gym’s sudden closure.
He paid $1,296 for 12 personal training sessions but had only completed three. He did not hear from the gym besides the news that they were closing for renovations.
NutriFirst, which runs the gym, responded to his claim but did not want to reimburse him and instead offered to compensate him with UFC merchandise. He declined this offer.
Mr Tung also mentioned that he last contacted the gym owner, Mr Barnabas Huang, but Mr Huang has not responded to further queries by the Straits Times.
UFC Gym CEO Speaks Out
There is still some hope left for gym members, according to the UFC Gym chief executive Adam Sedlack, although UFC or UFC Gym does not directly own the outlets in Singapore.
UFC Gym is in talks of bringing a new partner into the market, and Mr Sedlack said that those affected by the sudden closure would benefit from this.
In 2018, it announced its partnership with NF Fitness to set up 15 outlets in Singapore over ten years.
As mentioned in the Facebook post detailing the City Square Mall outlet’s closure, the gym closed mainly due to the pandemic.
Not the First Time
This is not the first time a fitness-related business ghosted its customers. In September last year, reports were filed against Kyklos Studios and its affiliated brand X Fitness.
Members said they had spent between $200 and $600 in packages, and a member, Elyssa Yip, said she even turned up for a session one day before the studio closed, and the boss was present.
Truly more out of the blue than the UFC Gym incident.
Like those of the UFC Gym, members were encouraged to file their claims at the Small Claims Tribunal. Case had also taken note of the matter.
The best part was when members contacted the studio’s instructors, they didn’t know what was happening either.
Other Sudden Business Closures
Gym members are not the only prey to this somewhat common phenomenon. There are several incidents where nail salons suddenly vanished, all using a similar tactic.
In August last year, Nails Mama at Heartland Mall closed, telling customers they could continue using their packages at their Serangoon outlet. But that was a lie.
They told a customer that she could visit their Serangoon North Ave 1 outlet, but she got no response when she replied.
Their Facebook page was also taken down. Although it was not officially listed anywhere that the salons were permanently closed, customers in Google reviews who had lots remaining in their balance verified that they were.
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