Mumbai Crime: Kandivli yoga guru runs off with annual fees of over 700 people
Those duped say fitness studio owner offered huge discounts before reeling in hundreds of people and escaping overnight
A fitness studio in Kandivli is making its patrons exercise in the most unique way — by having them run from pillar to post for their money after abruptly shutting down last week. The studio, named Pride, is located in Mahavir Nagar and its owner, Vineet Shah is nowhere to be found after promising to accommodate approximately 700 members of his gym in other local fitness studios.
The fitness studio, which offers classes for yoga, power yoga, aerobics, dance and zumba has been active for the past three years and has around 700 registered members, most of them . Almost all of them have paid at least Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 as the entire year's fee. Several members have been coming to the studio since its inception and had paid the annual fee because they trusted Shah. Others have joined the studio in June after being lured by flashy discounts.
Vineet Shah, owner of Pride fitness studio, has disappeared
'Nothing but cheating'
Satish Sharma, a retired LIC officer, joined Pride for yoga in January as it is near his residence. He has paid Rs 3,000 in yearly fees. "I never thought this man would shut everything without giving a proper reason to his customers. I understand that any issue could have happened, but the least a noble person could do is communicate it to the people concerned and refund their money if he is unable to provide services any longer."
"In May, he had started selling a six-month membership for just Rs 500. Several people had joined because of it. And in just a month, the classes have shut down. This is nothing but cheating," said Sharma.
Payal Zaveri, who joined in June on the heavily discounted offer, said, "I took the membership and four of my neighbours joined the studio on my word. We started classes on June 10 and around July 15, they shut down without any intimation. If the situation was so bad that the studio was going to be closed, they shouldn't have given out more memberships with such lucrative offers."
Urmila Shah, who has been a member of the Mahavir Nagar branch for the past two years, said, "Recently, there were days when the airconditioner was not working and other such problems kept occuring, but were told that was happening due to maintenance," she said.
Other branches shut too
Several members have been coming to the studio since its inception and had paid the annual fee because they trusted Shah. Pic /Nimesh Dave
When members of the Mahavir Nagar branch started looking deeper into the studio, they found out th
at there were three more branches of it, in Jayraj Nagar and Pai Nagar in Borivali and in Charkop, which shut a year ago. Purnima Panchal, who used to go to the Charkop branch, revealed, "I was a member there for three years. It shut down a year ago after which we were asked to join the Mahavir Nagar center. But who knew a similar situation would occur here too, within a year? I have already paid for the running year, of which six months are remaining."
Mahavir Nagar members got to know that the centre in Jayraj Nagar also downed its shutters. Preeti K, a member of the Jayraj Nagar branch, said, "The centre closed around the same time [as Mahavir Nagar] without giving us any intimation. Similar issues are being faced by members at our centre." All of these annoyed members are now trying to reach out to the Pai Nagar centre members to figure out the situation there.
Frustrated members kept calling Shah but did not receive any response on the issue. Some of them then approached local Shiv Sena activist Bipin Doshi. "My office is on the same road as the fitness studio. I was shocked when so many women approached me with their issues. All of them had receipts of payment made for the entire year. Many of them told me of the new offers, too, which clearly hint at the malicious intentions of the owner."
"The complainants and I then went to the Charkop police station. After giving us a patient hearing, the senior police officer there called Shah for a meeting, in which it was decided that he will either open the centre in eight days or accommodate all members in other nearby facilities. But shockingly, when some of them approached nearby fitness centres they were told no such deal has been finalized with Pride Fitness Studio. And now, the owner is absconding once again as his number remains unavailable." Doshi is now in the process of collecting names and receipts of all members to submit a formal complaint to the Charkop police station. "This is a huge fraud," he added.
Saroj Chitroda, whose family of three went to Pride, said, "My husband, daughter and I had joined in January and paid R4,000 each for a year. We immediately approached a centre in Shimpoli where we were supposed to get accommodated. But to our dismay, we were informed no such agreement had been finalised with Pride," told Saroj.
'Process will take time'
Senior police inspector at the Charkop police station, Hemant Sawant, said, "The complainants approached us and we called the owner of the fitness studio as well. Following the meeting, it was decided that the owner will accommodate these members in other nearby fitness studios since they have already paid an entire year's fee. The process is going to take some time. However, if the owner does not deliver on his promises, we will take
mid-day tried to reach out to Shah repeatedly but he remained unavailable for comment.
Payal Zaveri, member
'If the situation was so bad that the studio was going to be closed, they shouldn't have given out more memberships with such lucrative offers'
Satish sharma, member
'In May, he started selling a six-months membership for Rs 500. In just a month, the classes have shut down. This is nothing but cheating'
Average yearly fee for the studio
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