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Posted in Current Affairs, Gym
March 18, 2016

Vivafit Singapore bites the dust

Vivafit Singapore an all women only international gym that opens to much fanfare in Singapore in 2011 and has 6 outlets has close abruptly. In Singapore, 4 of the outlets, Marine Parade, Tanjong Pagar, Raffles Place and Clementi are run under franchise by Jonas Ogren and Cecile Jamoulle-Ogren as reported in Today newspaper and Sarah and Salman Habib operate the other 2 outlet at Beach Road and Bukit Merah as reported here.  These latter 2 outlet do not seems to be affected by the closure.

Founded by Spanish husband Pedro Ruiz and American wife Constance Ruiz, Vivafit is a made in Portugal company with a truly international business perspective. However its closure of the Singapore outlets has left a sour taste in the mouth of its members and follow the by now well established pattern of spa and beauty salons where members paid thousand of dollars to join as member only to find the outlets closing suddenly and leaving members without any recourse.

In the case of Vivafit Singaore, it all started with an email last week to the members of the Tanjong Pagar branch informing them that the gym will be closed and members will be transferred to the Raffles Place branch. However, many of the Tanjong Pagar members were unhappy with the decision as they had joined on the basis  of the location of the Tanjong Pagar branch.  Shortly after, members of other branches also received emails informing them of transfer to other outlets. On Wednesday some members received another email from the “Management” informing them that they will reviewing the matter and arrangement were being made to transfer them to another gym in Cantoment Road. However a check with the Cantoment gym found that there was no such arrangements and Vivafit members can only sign up for free trials instead.

Then on Thursday, an email was sent to the instructors informing them that they were no longer required and that Vivafit was closing down.  And by Thursday, all the outlets were shuttered without notice to members. Apparently there were also no notice on the door. Early Thursday evening, members were finally informed that Vivafit Singapore was filing for bankruptcy!

It is a shame that an international gym chain can behave in such a fashion. According to posting by members on its facebook page, even up to a few days ago, it was still selling membership. Obviously if it was already facing financial difficulties, the honourable and right thing to do should be to suspend new membership and try to place out its existing members instead of just taking the money and closing down.

If you are a member, this is what you can do:

  1. File a complain with CASE although since Vivafit is not a CASEtrust members, it is doubtful whether CASE can do much.
  2. File a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal.
  3. File a police report. Again, as on the surface this appears to be a case of business failure, likely the police will not take any actions but if the number of complainants are big enough, the police may have to take a second look into the operation of the business to see if there were any intent to cheat
  4. Harness the power of social media. Post comments and complaints on the facebook and twitter page of Vivafit Singapore, Vivafit International and any other related pages and blogs. Even if nothing can be recovered, at least this will ensure that no new people signs up during the course of the next few days. Note that the webpage and facebook page of Vivafit Singapore is still up and there is no notice of the closure and the online membership link is still live.
  5. If you are paying the membership fees through your deposit account via interbank giro, cancel the giro online immediately. Unfortunately if you had paid through your credit card and is now paying via monthly instalments, you will have to continue paying your credit card company even though you are not deriving benefits. Members can try on a collective basis to write to the various credit card to ask for discount or waiver. Who knows, you may get lucky and meet a sympathetic bank who may go beyond their black and white and actually do something to help
  6. File a lawsuit against the company and perhaps even the directors. Note that legal cost is expensive and as the amount claim is not big, it may not be cost effective to sue and even then the chance of recovery is slim. If pursuing this option, a better way is to collectively gather the members to fund the legal actions. If the claim is successful, possible recovery could be in the form of seizure of the gyms’ equipment, garnishing the money in the bank accounts.  And if a case can be made out against the directors for fraud and misrepresentation, the possibilities of recovery may be even higher. Or the least the lawsuit can do is to tarnish the financial credit standing of the directors so that no banks in Singapore will ever extend any credit to them any more.
  7. If Vivafit Singapore is indeed being wound up, file a proof of debt with the liquidators.

And last but not least, if you have to join another gym or for that matter buy any sort of package, make sure they are CASE accredited. Remember, just because they are international doesn’t mean they cannot and will not fold.

 

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