The unexpected shuttering of a southeast yoga studio has a Calgary woman seeking retribution for more than $1,000 in prepaid classes.

Tracey Lynch says she has been a regular visitor to House of Yoga in Midnapore since 2009.

“For the past eight years, it’s been a wonderful place,” said Lynch. “They are wonderful. Everyone that works there is wonderful. It’s not like a normal fitness facility. It’s a real sense of community and a real sense of family.”

In July of 2016, Lynch purchased a 100 class pass with an expiration date of 2024. “I loved them. They were great and I never foresaw them going out of business,” said Lynch of the studio’s owners. “It was their dream and it was what they loved to do. It was what I loved to do, going there, so I felt very secure.”

On Sunday, discovered a disturbing post on her Facebook newsfeed indicating House of Yoga would be closing for good on January 31, 2017. The message indicated “There will be no further withdraws from any scheduled payments, and as there will no longer be a facility, we are unable to honour any prepaid sessions.”

“I have 103 passes and, usually if I go twice a week, this represents basically, for me, a year’s worth of yoga,” explained Lynch. “They’re not really representing what they stand for by closing without honouring or refunding people for services that they haven’t rendered. It’s just a shock.”

“I just feel betrayed.”

Morgan Chollak, one of House of Yoga’s owners, says the business could not survive a series of unfortunate circumstances.

“Due to the harsh economic downturn in the city as well as the combination of the recent decision by our landlords to raise our rent, the carbon tax, as well as the small business tax schedule, we were just no longer able to keep the studio running and keep our doors open,” Chollak told CTV Calgary. “(People) are finding less and less money to afford certain amenities in their life such as yoga or anything that is considered an extra expenditure.”

Chollak says efforts are underway to ensure House of Yoga’s students are not left in the cold.

“We have talked to multiple yoga studios and are continuing to find other yoga studios in close proximity to us that are willing to absorb the students that have current, unused purchased classes so that their pre-purchased classes will not go to waste.”

While Lynch awaits confirmation that her unused passes will not fall by the wayside, she struggles to see what she could have done to avoid her current situation.

“You could say research the companies and make sure they’re not new but that didn’t apply to me,” said Lynch. “I don’t really know what people can do to protect themselves in today’s economy.”

Leah Brownridge of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Alberta says there are steps customers should take before making a long-term commitment to a business.

  • Pay with a credit card “You might have some recourse with your credit card provider should the centre close down.”
  • Inquire about the refund and cancellation policies “Sometimes they may be able to issue a refund, sometimes not.”
  • Make payments in installments instead of as a lump-sum
  • Avoid purchasing classes or memberships far in advance “If it’s going to take you a couple years to use that up, you don’t know what can happen in that time.”