Ten more former clients of K Fitness have come forward, after a CBC investigation into the Burnaby kickboxing gym revealed allegations owner Arleo Dordar is still refusing to give refunds to members who quit.
Last week, seven former clients of K Fitness told CBC News they were cheated out of refunds when they cancelled memberships at the gym.
After our story aired, 10 other people came forward complaining about the company’s business practices, with similar allegations relating to contract disputes, over billing and refunds.
Samantha Balemba says K Fitness owner Arleo Dordar treated her unfairly.
'I tried to put in complaints and people just kept telling us they can’t do anything' - Samantha Balemba, former K Fitness client
"He over billed me a few times it was like pulling teeth trying to get it refunded," said Balemba, who claims she also taught martial arts at K Fitness and didn't get paid.
"[Dordar] never paid me while I was working, except for comp'ing my tuition," she said, adding that she hasn’t pursued the matter further because she didn’t have a written employment contract.
When reached via email and asked about the allegations over unpaid employees, Arleo Dordar wrote, "I have check copies for proof of staff pay checks for the last 5 years."
The CBC asked him for Samantha Balemba's records and Dordar emailed back claiming Balemba was a volunteer.
"She was working for free membership. And she was volunteering for experience," said Dordar.
Jamal Nazari says he is still owed nearly $2,000 after he pulled his kids out of K Fitness.
"More important than the money or getting a refund, is to let the community know and to prevent others to fall into the trap we fell into," said Narazi.
Narazi filed a complaint with Consumer Protection BC which ruled in his favour, but has yet to receive any refund from Dordar.
Former gym member shares contract
Sara Phillips, a former client of K Fitness, spoke to the CBC for our initial investigation into the Burnaby gym last week.
After seeing reaction to the story, she sent in the contract she says she signed with K Fitness, as an example of what she and many other former gym members say they are faced with, when dealing with Dordar.
"The first page I had to go back and get from the receptionist at a later date from when I signed the contract," Phillips told the CBC.
"The second page, with all the scribbles on it, is what he gave me when I signed it, before calling me 'too picky.'"
Phillips said she originally agreed to pay $600 for six months and paid a down payment of $300.
"A month after paying the down payment, when I actually received the paper work, Arleo argued that $600 was the price before tax.
"Reluctantly I agreed, but as you can see the amount over $600 is $60 which makes the rate of tax I was charged at 10 per cent."
Consumer watchdog imposed $4,700 fines
Four months ago, Consumer Protection BC fined K Fitness owner Arleo Dordar $4,700, for failing to sign proper member contracts and give out refunds.
Dordar claims to have tried to pay the fines and refunds required, but the consumer watchdog disputes this and is taking the case to court to enforce the ruling.
Last week, Dordar told the CBC in a phone interview the issue of some people being double billed was a software problem.
CBC News has since learned the software used by K Fitness is a program created by a relative of Dordar. PerfectMind.com lists Farid Dordar as the CEO.
CBC called Arleo Dordar this Tuesday for comment on the latest allegations, but he also failed to show up for a scheduled interview last Friday at his gym.
Burnaby RCMP say they’ve received one complaint about the K Fitness gym, but officers did not have enough evidence to pursue charges.
Consumers don't know where to go
The City of Burnaby says K Fitness still has an active business licence, because the city has not received any complaints about the business to date.
Samantha Balemba and Jamal Nazari say the city may not have any complaints because consumers aren’t sure who to go to.
"I tried to put in complaints and people just kept telling us they can’t do anything and they didn’t know who to direct us to," said Balemba.
"I went in circles a little bit trying to figure something out and the best we could do was word of mouth, trying to get it out there"
The City of Burnaby says in rare cases, they have revoked business licences for gross misconduct, but they would need to conduct their own investigation if they receive complaints.
"For various reasons we have revoked licences in the past, it’s not something we do often and we don’t do it very heavy-handedly," said Dan Layng, Chief Licence Inspector at the City of Burnaby’s licensing department.
Layng said the city's first course of action is to always to try to work with businesses to see if the problem can be remedied without revoking licenses.
"In cases where there’s serious offences or longstanding issues that aren’t rectified by the business owner, we have proceeded to council to recommend their licence be cancelled," said Layng.
"Under the community charter, council is the only authority that can cancel or suspend a business licence."
When asked whether there is enough consumer awareness about filing a complaint with the city, Layng admitted the system wasn't well publicized.
"There’s probably not enough knowledge about that, it probably could be better," he said.
Samantha Balemba says she will be filing a complaint with the city.
"[Dordar] doesn’t know how to run a business. He doesn’t know how to deal with people. He doesn’t know how to deal with finances."
Have you experienced issues like these at K Fitness or other gyms? Contact our reporter Bal Brach at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.