By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
The Oregon Department of Justice is investigating a Keizer gym that closed abruptly in December of last year, leaving members wondering where their membership dues went.
Corey Ahrens, the gym’s owner, told the Keizertimes then that his customers would have their memberships transferred to another gym – which state law allows him to do so long as it happens promptly.
But the customers we spoke with said that offer never materialized, and the company Ahrens told us would be transferring memberships told us a different story. He told the Keizertimes then he made the decision to close on December 22, and had been selling memberships up until then.
“We are a third-party company. We have no affiliation with (Platinum Sports and Fitness) whatsoever,” said a representative from All-State Financial Group, who declined to give her name. The firm provides membership services to gyms, including Platinum.
Ahrens declined to answer specific questions by email, saying “you guys took what I said last time and twisted my words to make your story better.
“I took over a business that was going bankrupt,” Ahrens said. “I tried to live the American dream and own my own business in the worse [sic] economy we’ve seen in a very long time. Business [sic] across america closing daily and going bankrupt. I tried to stay open for as long as I could.
Bottom line is I couldn’t make it work.”
“Why don’t you do your story when all the REAL AND TRUE [sic] facts come out instead of making people look bad,” Ahrens added.
The DOJ has received at least 26 complaints about Platinum Sports, said Kate Medema, who handles constituent and public affairs for the department. Although she said she couldn’t reveal which laws the department suspects may have been broken, she said the agency can work with customers for dispute resolution through the Consumer Protection Section. It also has civil authority to enforce laws under the Unlawful Trade Practices Act.
“We’re looking into the business beyond our normal processing of consumer complaints,” Medema said.
The DOJ asks anyone with a grievance against the company to file a formal complaint at doj.state.or.us.
Some former members told us they could see the closure coming.
Todd Flint, a Keizer resident, told us he saw problems at the gym and admitted to being surprised when he would come in to find the doors open.
“It’s common for gyms to (fold),” Flint said. “It’s one of those things where they eventually run out of clientele and money … I was just waiting.”