Clients of a local weight loss clinic are out thousands of dollars after two Winnipeg locations shut down without notice.

One client, Tammy Luedecke, said the franchise owner and company’s head office keep pointing the finger at each other, and all she wants is her money back.

After fracturing her spine, Tammy Ludecke started worrying about the way she looked. “I’ve been doing Weight Watchers and exercising as I can,” she said.

A friend suggested she try Zerona, a laser weight loss featured on television talk shows like The Doctors. She never imagined she’d lose more cash than inches.

When Luedecke signed up for the services, it cost almost $2,500 – 50 per cent off, she said the company offered.

The Main St. location where she went shut down in February without notice. She was transferred to St. Vital’s Meadowood location. However, on Wednesday, she arrived at the clinic and found the doors were closed.

Luedecke emailed the owner, Laura Akong.

Akong said she gave “high payments” to Zerona Canada, and “had to close corporately as well as file personal bankruptcy”. She even lost her “children’s RRSPs”.

There have been no posts on the store’s Facebook page since February 27, except for frustrated clients.

Luedecke called the Meadowood clinic’s number, and heard a recording saying that the location had closed, redirecting calls to Zerona Canada without giving a number, and there is no phone number on Zerona Canada’s website.

CTV found Zerona’s marketing manager’s number. She was less than pleased that we called her on a Sunday, saying she knew nothing before hanging up. She then sent a text message saying she forwarded our contact details to the appropriate people.

A lawyer representing Zerona then emailed CTV News, saying, “Zerona Canada has nothing to do with customers of the Winnipeg location, and is in no position to assist them in obtaining refunds.”

Tammy says the program does work. “There were definitely results,” she said.

Clients are required to follow an exercise and dietary regimen as part of the treatments.

Luedecke says she only wants what she’s owed after pre-paying for her treatments. “The money or the treatment. Either or. I don’t want anything more than I didn’t use,” she said.

However, the contract Luedecke signed states: “I understand that this treatment plan is not sold on a trial basis and that no refund of fees will be made.”

She’s now rallying others like her, and is considering a class action lawsuit.

Laura Akong, the owner of the two Winnipeg locations, emailed us and said she would only provide a comment after speaking with her lawyer.


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