WEST KELOWNA – Some local families are scrambling for another child-friendly activity after a West Kelowna attraction closed its’ doors without warning two weeks ago.
Laura Huntington spent more than $100 on an annual pass at O-Go Play in October. She’s been taking her two-year-old son Reece there almost every day but last week when she showed up the lights were out and there was a sign on the door saying they were closed.
“My husband and I wondered if it was just for the day or for the week so we went back a couple more times and nothing,” she says. “We tried to phone and their phone is disconnected.”
Huntington also tried emailing the company to ask for a refund but hasn’t heard back yet. She says she heard of a few families that were able to contact the owners and received refunds but hasn’t had any luck yet herself.
“It’s one of the very few things to do on this side of the bridge,” she says. “When you pay a lump sum up front like that you kind of expect it to last for the whole year. It will hurt us this year for sure. We still had six months on the pass.”
She says she’s since heard of 'quite a few”'other families who also lost money when the facility closed.
“I’m actually surprised how many people had memberships,” she says. “A lot of people don’t seem very happy with the customer service there.”
O-Go Play opened on Bering Road in 2012. For the past three years Lindsay Carter bought a family pass for her children. She says she feels betrayed by the ownership who certainly knew the closure was imminent.
"We visited during spring break and the owners definitely didn't say anything about closing," she says. "I'm really frustrated that we spent over $300 for my three children and were only able to use the facility for a couple of months. I only found out it had closed from Facebook when other parents were complaining they closed down and disconnected their business phone. How do you rip off families in your community and continue to live in the community?"
Huntington says she too suspects the owners knew they were closing and noticed they weren’t very cooperative in the weeks leading up to the closure.
“They just sat on their computers and didn’t really want to do anything to help us,” she says. “They have an inflatable bouncy house in the centre and it was never inflated. If you ask them to it was like pulling teeth. They just sat on their computer and didn’t want to talk to anyone.”
She says the hardest part is explaining to her son what’s happened to his favourite attraction.
“There’s really no way to make him understand,” she says. “Every time we drive past it he wants to go and I don’t really know what to say to him.”
Huntington says while she doesn’t expect a full refund, she would have appreciated some notice from owner Dion Larocque.
“If I could speak to them I’d say we get that it’s not possible to stay open if it’s not working financially, but to just disappear is a pretty shady thing to do to your loyal customers.”
The founder of a local non-profit Mamas for Mamas, which helps low-income families get back on their feet, says she knows of at least 15 families that bought season passes before it closed – some only days before the lights went out.
Shannon Christensen is now looking for similar attractions in Kelowna or West Kelowna that would be willing to supply season passes for those affected by the sudden closure.
If your business or organization would like to help, you can email Shannon at email@example.com.
The phone number and the Facebook page for O-Go Play have been disconnected and attempts to reach the company for comment were unsuccessful.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.