Yes, the company is short of cash even if some of its 13,000 members claim they were urged to renew memberships long before they’ll expire. In Hong Kong it’s not unusual for a membership based shops to shut down in a blink of an eye. Customers of Planet Yoga will now have to look for new places to meditate and stay fit. Once they find one, members are also hoping that it won’t fold too soon; in March, Yoga Yoga International also closed shop.
For those determined to reclaim prepaid memberships,
good luck Planet Yoga’s website may provide useful information. Yet, as another manifestation of being uncooperative and unprofessional, Planet Yoga’s website was promptly shut down without notice or reason.
We know that even as a website is shut down for good, search engines continue to keep information about the website. At least until their next visit to the website confirms it’s no longer serving the Web. Therefore it’s possible to dig into the cache of search engine results by typing the following query into the search form:
Clicking on the results would issue error messages, so we’re left to viewing the cached snapshot of the website as of Google’s last visit as what the following image would portray.
Members obviously can easily find addresses and phone numbers even without looking at the cached page of Planet Yoga’s location. But it may be a long shot to hear someone answer the phone and tell members how to collect refunds.
Not to take side on Planet Yoga, it’s webmaster could have implemented the following steps to expedite removal of the company’s website from search engines and other Web properties:
1. Initiate URL removal using Google Webmaster’s URL Removal Tool found under Site Configuration > Crawler Access.
2. To remove Planet Yoga’s gym locations from Google Maps, log in to Google Places (formerly known as Google Local Business) and look for the corresponding “delete” link for the business listing.
3. Place robot.txt with the following content into the root folder of Planet Yoga website:
4. Implement Error 410 Gone. Error 410 indicates that the resource being requested has been deliberately removed. This is more potent than the 404 Error page and Google apparently confirms this removes indexed content faster.
Class dismissed. Unsuspecting web servers churning out yoga class schedules even on the day Planet Yoga announced its closure.
What would customers do now? Look for remaining yoga chains that offer discounted memberships? Be vigilant though, as Fong Fai, an industry leader predicted that at least two more chains would close this year because of stagnant demand and fierce pricing competition.
“There was a growing demand after Sars but it has decreased since late 2007. The number of service providers kept going up so malicious price competition emerged,” he said.
For now, the website offers little, if any means to reach out to Planet Yoga staff. But at least there’s one thread at their Facebook page where staff may peek once in a while at what people have to say.