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Burnaby kickboxing business fined

A North Burnaby kickboxing school has been fined by Consumer Protection BC (CPBC) for using verbal contracts with customers and not issuing refunds when warranted.

KFitness at 4715 Hastings St. also does business as Sport Kickboxing Academy. It failed to issue refunds to two customers within 15 days of being notified they were cancelling their contracts, according to CPBC's compliance order. They also entered into verbal contracts and written contracts that didn't provide the required information.

CPBC has ordered the school to pay $4,700 in refunds and penalties.

The owner of KFitness says he has paid out the refunds of almost $2,200 but plans to appeal the penalties, calling the process unfair.

Tatiana Chabeaux-Smith, CPBC spokesperson, said under B.C. law contracts for continuing services, such as those for fitness centres or martial arts schools, must be in writing.

And consumers have a right to get refunds under certain circumstances. Those rights must be stated in the written contracts.

For instance, "you have 10 days to cancel, no matter what," Chabeaux-Smith said. "You don't have to give a reason."

Other reasons that can justify cancelling such contracts include the customer moving more than 30 kilometres away, they submit a doctor's note, and the service they signed up for is no longer offered.

The last two years, CPBC has opened 21 investigations into contracts for fitness and self-defence services, she said. The outcomes have been varied, from voluntary compliance to compliance orders.

KFitness owner Arleo Dordar, 27, said he traced the problems to a former staff member who did not submit the proper paperwork or get contracts signed. That employee has since been fired as a result.

In one case, the client was a former student who returned, but then changed her mind after three weeks, he said. She filed the complaint with CPBC even though the school agreed to give her a refund.

The second case involved a client who had his membership cancelled after he was  disruptive and abusive to staff during his kids' lessons, Dordar said. He believes the client was angered by the move and filed the complaint as a result.

They were three months into the program and would not have been eligible for the refund if the contract had been in writing, he claimed.

Dordar said he has hired a lawyer and plans to appeal the fines. They include a total of $1,200 for failing to provide requested information to CPBC enforcement inspectors.

He claims the inspectors took several documents from his school and he provided all the information they asked for.

And while each student was given martial arts clothing, belts and gloves, he was not allowed to deduct their cost from the refund.

The enforcement inspectors "didn't care about my side of the story, all they care about is the consumer," Dordar said. "Where is the protection for businesses?"

During its four years in the community KFitness has helped teach its young students not to bully, he said.

"We are all about that. But I ended up getting bullied."

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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