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California Fitness / Customer Harassment, Contract scam and Terrible service

1 Parkvale, 1060 Kings Road, Quarry Bay, Hong KongQuarry Bay Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Contact information:

Branch: Quarry Bay
Date of Incident: 14 July 2015 - 16 August 2015
Best possible resolution: Get California Fitness sued. They are a notable company of conning and harassing people into signing their contracts.


So I recently have a bad experience with California Fitness, but I am going to write my story anonymously. In the end it is a lesson learnt for me, but it also shows that California Fitness is far from trustworthy nor professional.

I was walking home after lunch with my grandma and there is this trainer who walked up to me and asked me if I am interested in their training programs. And they are extremely annoying and persistent, they would even follow you for a while trying their best to persuade. I was curious, so I went in to see what's up. However, before entering I made it absolutely clear that I didn't want anything to do with money.

However, the moment I entered they started offering various promotions with marketing techniques. They conveniently forgotten that I mentioned that no money should ever be mentioned in this conversation, but when I brought that up they called me stupid since all transactions require money, something that I was initially disinterested about.

The only reason why I applied in the end despite refusing initially was because I felt the need to exercise after not doing so for two years. Then they proposed this long term package, which I would pay an initial sum of $2400~ which would last 18 months. While it seemed tempting at first I realized that I wouldn't exercise at California Fitness. On me I had way less than $2400, so they actually asked me "How much money is there in your bank?".

Yes, they literally asked that. This reflects how unprofessional the trainers and the staff are in California because they would play extremely dirty to fill their daily rice bowl. And when I was unable to provide an answer they asked for a rough estimation. To put things clear, anyone who is decent in professionalism would not ask for sensitive details like that, so when I was confronted with this question it made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

Yet, I really wanted to exercise, however I could not possibly exercise in California Fitness forever. What I should have done right there was to walk away because the staff was clearly unprofessional in their service. Even my mum was extremely annoyed when her personal trainer failed to take their training seriously.

Eventually, they told me that I can pay $860 to exercise at their place from July 14 till August 25. Yet, this deal was not explained in the contract and I trusted that they would abide to it. Since the contract was written in Traditional Chinese, and I was inept at fully understanding it, I was unable to fully read the contract. In retrospect, I really should have walked away then. However, I am grateful that I evaded their scam 'promotion', otherwise it would have cost me money in the 4-5 digits.

During my first few days exercising there, the trainers would often come up to me and want to talk to me. As usual, I made it clear that I am not interested in their personal training but they assured me that they are not selling. Then they wanted to see my body weight and the results revealed that I am severely lacking in nutrition, which isn't true because I have been eating healthily consistently during that period. Clearly, the results have been skewed to exaggerate their point that I am in a 'problematic' health condition when I'm only underweight and nothing more. Then, again, they conveniently forgotten that I made it clear that I am not interested in personal trainers. The trainer advertised to me his personal training services, saying the natural benefits of a healthy body can last a lifetime. He then asked me the same question of "How much money do you have in the bank", and it proved to be extremely difficult for me to politely talk my way out of saying that I'm not interested without offending them.

And this happened twice in one day, so my body nutrition was measured twice and I had to deal with the same thing again, but with another trainer. And those trainers that I turned down, they give me this long face every time they see me exercising at their centre.

A month later, I have still been exercising at California Fitness myself and without any personal trainers. I have evidently been slightly buffed up (all my friends and family said the same thing when they see me). Can't say the same regarding the trainers' remarks though. They would walk to me giving snide remarks that I have not improved a single bit since I joined, but when I stressed on no personal training, they made it look as if I am the bad guy by pointing out that I am paranoid. But saying that my body needs exercise is always their first step to promoting their personal training services and had I not stress it out in a slightly emotional manner, I would have to undergo the same ordeal again.

And on August 16th, when I was about to leave after my exercise, one of the staff took away my California Fitness card, claiming that my membership has expired. This isn't true because clearly I heard that I can get one additional month free by paying $860 but unfortunately it was not mentioned in the contract. I was slightly shocked but came to a full realisation that while it was far from severe, I got scammed by the contract.

TLDR: They harassed me by trying to make me reveal my bank details, scammed me with their misleading contract and the service is downright horrible.

While it is my fault that I complied with them despite refusing to get involved in money initially, it comes to show how deceptive California Fitness is in their promotion. I felt extremely uncomfortable talking to them because all they want was my money. They would do all sorts of dirty methods possible, from advertising promotions to even exaggerating how 'unhealthy' your body is to lure you in. And when you turn them down, they would make nasty comments on your personal purchasing power.

So this is my warning to all you fellow people who get followed and pressured by those trainers outside their gym trying to lure you in: Just ignore them and move on with your thing.

And I hope the Hong Kong government can take note of this serious issue of California Fitness conning people, I have heard incidents when people have been scammed in the 6 digits by them, it's extremely horrendous.

Yours sincerely,

Aug 17, 2015

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