(GRAND RAPIDS) -- Grand Rapids area Bikram Yoga practitioners, teachers and employees have had a frustrating experience with the abrupt closing of Bikram Yoga Grand Rapids, located at 4547 28th Street in Kentwood, MI. Customers who paid for yoga classes were abandoned, as were employees and contractors who did not receive paychecks.
The franchised studio was reportedly sold earlier in 2017 by Brandon Kietzman, who also owns Bikram Yoga Traverse City. Mr. Kietzman reportedly told employees, contractors and practitioners that he had sold the business to a man named “Alexander.”
In mid-October Alexander reportedly left town for the weekend, and did not return.
Efforts to get more info from the prior owner in Traverse City ended in no help according to messages on Facebook, "I did let Brandon know. He sent me a letter from an attorney. Which is funny because I am also an attorney, so I will be writing back a response."
BBB will be investigating this issue further, and offers the following guidance:
+ Closings and Ownership Changes: If a business changes ownership but remains open, ask the new owner for a contract containing the same terms as the one you have; unless the new owner is honoring your old contract, you can't be required to join the new club. If you cannot get written confirmation that your old contract will be honored and the new business refuses to provide a satisfactory resolution, file a complaint with BBB Serving Western Michigan.
+ Long Term Contracts: Long term isn’t always your best option, make sure to ask if there is a month-to-month, short-term, or trial membership available. Regardless of the length of your contract, ask if you can pay monthly; if the club closes, you'll likely lose less money than if you'd paid in full up front.
+ Read Contracts Thoroughly: Take your time to fully read the contract and all its terms before you sign anything. Absolutely read through the fine print for loopholes or other unexpected charges that could surprise you later. And you can always ask to take a blank contract home to read over things further before making your decision.
+ Cancellations and Refunds: You'd be wise to also read through the Cancellation and Refund policies in your contract. This will provide you with clear cut information about how and when you can cancel your membership and if you're entitled to a refund in certain instances. A "lifetime" membership is only good for the lifetime of the business, not your personal lifetime.
+ Keep Copies: Get a copy of everything you sign to keep for your personal records. Refer to your contract and its terms whenever approached about additional fees or non-mandatory fees required to keep your membership in good standing. And anytime a business asks you for more money than was originally agreed upon, ask for clarification before you pay up.
+ Free Trial Offers: While free trials often seem like a free test drive of the club, be alert for hidden costs and the date when your trial period officially ends. Be aware that some underhanded health clubs may not allow you to take advantage of a free trial without a signed contract, or they may automatically convert your free trial into a paying membership at the end of the trial period. Know that whenever you provide payment information it could be used to hit you with unexpected charges.
+ Exercise Caution: If the club is advertising an unrealistically low price, be wary, because as they say, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
+ Report the Sudden Closure: If you’ve had an issue with a health club or your membership, let us know by filing a complaint online via BBB.org. You can also report a sudden business closure complaint via Michigan's Attorney General.
If you've had an issue with Bikram Yoga Grand Rapids or another organization, file a complaint via BBB so we can further investigate and work towards a mutually agreed upon solution. Consumers can get started via our website: https://www.bbb.org/ask/complaints
Check out current developing scams in Western Michigan via BBB's Scam Tracker resource: https://www.bbb.org/ask/scams