News

Burnaby kickboxing school still under fire

A North Burnaby kickboxing school still hasn't paid fines or issued refunds months after being ordered to do so by Consumer Protection BC (CPBC).

The City of Burnaby is now also investigating complaints against the school.

Meanwhile, the complaints continue to pile up.

KFitness Burnaby, which also does business as Sport Kickboxing Academy, is located at 4715 Hastings St.

CPBC issued a compliance order in March stating the school failed to issue refunds to two customers within 15 days of being notified they were cancelling their contracts. It also entered into verbal contracts and written contracts that didn't provide the required information, both violations of the B.C. law governing such contracts.

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

As reported in the NewsLeader at the time, KFitness owner Arleo Dordar, 27, said he paid out the refunds of almost $2,200 but planned to appeal the penalties, calling the process unfair.

But as of this week, Consumer Protection BC says no fines have yet been paid nor have any refunds been issued. It filed compliance orders in B.C. Supreme Court last week.

After the CBC aired a story recently on complaints against the school, another 10 former clients came forward with allegations over being refused refunds, overbilling and contract disputes.

Burnaby resident Niko Chan, 22, told the NewsLeader he was a member at the school for two years before he was hired as an assistant instructor.

He said he didn't have an employment contract but was to be paid cash. After his first week of work, Dordar told him that time had been an unpaid training period. He was told the same thing after he'd worked for three weeks.

Chan said he then quit, about a month ago, and is owed $300 in wages.

But more costly was his prepayment of one year's worth of membership fees, something he said he did after Dordar convinced him it would save him money. Those fees were supposed to cover the year starting August 2014 but Dordar refused to refund it when Chan quit the school.

Chan, a BCIT student, has since filed a complaint with Consumer Protection BC and Burnaby city hall.

Consumer Protection BC says 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.

It confirmed it has since received an additional complaint about the school. CPBC noted that its compliance order filed in court can be used to support any action in small claims court that consumers may want to take.

It stressed it is only responsible for regulating fitness contracts and does not have the authority to revoke such schools' business licences.

Burnaby city hall, however, does.

In the last week, the city has received two complaints about the kickboxing school and "we are looking into it," said Burnaby's chief licence inspector Dan Layng.

While he could not comment on this particular case, Layng said under the Community Charter the city has the power to suspend or cancel a business licence for "reasonable cause."

In the past, Burnaby has done so for reasons including continued bylaw violations and a business having "detrimental effects on the community at large."

But such action is taken "very rarely," Layng stressed. "Our preferred method, whenever we have an issue with any business, property, etc., is to work with the property owner or business owner and try to reach voluntary compliance and resolve the issue before we take any action."

Arleo Dordar did not respond to an email and phone message seeking comment before the NewsLeader's deadline.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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