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#335054 - 01/17/07 03:29 PM Contracts made by schools
Sorin Offline
Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Oxford, MS
I talked with a friend of mine today and she told me that she had signed up for a TKD school,
but unfortunately she couldn't afford to stay with it for now. She unfortunately had signed a 3
year contract with this school when she started. Right now, money is on fairly short supply and
she's tried to talk to the teacher to explain her situation to get out of the contract. That apparently
didn't work. To me, a 3 year contract as soon as you start seems a bit unethical. I don't like the
whole contracts thing in general, but 3 years!? Anyone have any thoughts on this or perhaps a
suggestion on a course of action to take to help her get out of this situation? I personally think
that since she signed the contract, it won't be a simple matter to get out of, regardless of how
unethical the thing seems. I'm sure many of us would spot the contract as a big sign to get away
from this place, but unfortunately the average person doesn't usually understand the danger signs.
It's a shame that some good people who would probably stay in the arts for years can have their
martial arts experience destroyed by the shackles of some of these contracts.

Sorin

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#335055 - 01/17/07 03:56 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Thats a pretty tough spot. If she signed the contract then its going to be very hard on her part to get out of it. How long has she got left before the end of her contract?

The only thing I can suggest is that she try talking to the instructor again about possibly postponing her training with an agreed upon return date, however if the instructor already refused to let her out of it, the chances are not good.

She could try closing her bank account to prevent them from taking more money out. Dunno if that would work or not though.

Laura

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#335056 - 01/17/07 05:32 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Soran

That is a real problem.

In many cases--CHECK TO MAKE SURE THAT IT APPLIES IN THIS CASE--contract like that are actually oftenn sold to a 3td party that buys the paper for a percentage of the total amount.

The teacher gets a piece and no longer has to jack around with actually billing or dealing with non-paying students.

Problem is that the money "owed" is now owed to a 3td party.

If the contract is binding--then they can trash your credit, harrass you (to an extent) and otherwise make life hader than it needs to be.

I'd have them look at the contract itself--with a fine toothed comb.
See if their are any ways to canceal the contract--few contracts care so iron clad that they accept no alteration of services over that length of time---esp for a "hobby" like martial arts.

You could also google "how to get out of contracts" sometimes you can find some pretty good ideas.

Also check the relevent laws with the Better Business Dept in your area--sometimes they can really help.

Often its worth MORE to a teacher/school NOT to have people from the BBB crawling up their nether regions with a microscope then the contract is worth.

The lost business from bad press alone can cripple a school--esp if there are other schools in the area.


(Also why its often a bad idea from the OWNERS standpoint sell contracts to a 3td party---having someone effectively doing PR related stuff for your school that you have no control over should scare people to death)

How old is the person?

Was there any "pressure" put in them to sign the long term contract?

Were promises made that the contract does not reflect?

(the last probabaly won't really help--but if people are "saying" one thing in order to get people to sign then the contract DOES NOT reflect that---that could be actionable.
Might not effect the contract itself--but it could really effect the owner.)

Have there been changes at the school whcih have effected the quality of the instructuion?

Has there been a change in teaching staff--which could lead to downgrade of quality?

Have there been a change in the students?
If your the only adult in the "adult" class that might matter.

Again, go back to the exact wording of the contract--somtimes it helps.

Like I said, tough spot to be in.

Check what the relevent laws might be in your area.


Edited by cxt (01/17/07 05:40 PM)

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#335057 - 01/17/07 06:15 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
wow. horrible.

there are a few options. the simplest is just stop paying and stop going to class and take chances on whether he/they will sue or not. ...thats a bit risky since it could drag on and may ultimately affect credit reports. and she may end up being court ordered to pay anyway.


tell her to check local laws and find out her rights. then check for similar cases and outcome. It helps if your friend happens to be a student still living at home or a minor.

get a decent lawyer. when he/they get a letter from a lawyer, he/they will be more willing to negotiate reasonably out of court.

as cxt asks...what state is she in and how old?

also see: http://www.24fightingchickens.com/2006/09/29/contracts/

http://ntfa-dallas.home.att.net/mcdojo.htm

not sure if this would work...but read the contract over again and look for things like this:
Quote:

there's often a clause that if you physically become "unable to participate any longer", or it's "detrimental to your health", they'll let you out of it. I've "heard" of some people spending $30 to go see their doctor, telling the doctor their knees hurt all-the-time and they think its due-to-kicking in karate. Then asking their doctor if he'll write a note saying "I recommend you discontinue karate immediately for the sake of your knees" so you can get out of the contract. I've "heard" people have easily and successfully done that and were released from their contract!!!




or you could go the 'mislabled self-defense' route (which is why mcdojos are now avoiding that particular phrase). It could be argued that you aren't getting the training as advertised.

alternatively, find out if the school will let you transfer your contract to another person wishing to join.

contract law in general:

http://www.consumer.org.nz/topic.asp?doc...enttype=general

good luck. don't sign Martial Art contracts.

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#335058 - 01/17/07 07:53 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
A contract is usually meant to protect the person who draws up the contract - to cover THEIR a$$. Sometimes, the contract will have a termination or escape clause. If she didn't agree to the terms or the contract, she should not have signed it in the first place.

As my mother always told me... Always read the contract fine print carefully before you sign anything... you have to know what you're signing and what legal rights you are giving up as a result.

I think she'll need to read the fine print and see if she has any recourse - usually with the local Dept of Fair Trading and Small-Claims Court (or whatever it's called in your country).

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#335059 - 01/17/07 09:40 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: eyrie]
Sorin Offline
Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Oxford, MS
Thanks for all of the replies. I'll pass on all the information to her. I don't know all of the
information about the situation, but here's what I do know. She's 22 and living in eastern AR. She's a
college student at the moment. I believe she's been at this place for a few months, but now she
can't afford to pay for it and school. She didn't seem to have a problem with the instruction.
Her issue is just the fact that she can't afford it. Her family isn't having the best of luck
financially and she has to pay for everything for herself, so she needs all of the money she can
get. I think she tried to explain that to the instructor but from what I gather, he still wouldn't
let her out of the contract. I don't know the exact situation about signing the contract, but I'll
ask her when I pass the information on. Thanks again for the posts.

Sorin

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#335060 - 01/17/07 09:58 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Yeah, well, we're getting into the tricky part of contract law... and breach of contract. Good luck.

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#335061 - 01/18/07 12:01 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
have her look up 'Breach of Contract Attorneys' in Arkansas.

There are a few angles that may be worthwhile. Since it's likely a mcdojo, if they have someone underage or underqualified teaching you...that may be a breach of contract.

The "doctor's note" is worth asking a lawyer about.

If the instructor has any fradulant claims:
-bogus rank/qualifications
-false advertising like saying 'self defense' yet delivering tournament sport. the argument would go something like: "I'm a female college student, and I was looking to learn how to defend against attack...not score points with a judge."

There has to be a clause on the contract that deals with the fact people sometimes move too far away to attend class. or other hardship clauses. That may be an angle to make a case.

In any event, talk to a lawyer.

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#335062 - 01/18/07 10:52 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Soran

Man, I can't tell you how much a hate bullies and folks that take advantage of people.

If someone wanted to really make a stand.

Check the contract about EXACTLY what the school was supposed to PROVIDE HER.

The EXACT wording.

Then show up at each and every class and take your legally binding spot on the mat wearing a sign that says "Master "X" is ripping me off on my contract--ask me how."

Or 'Im going broke paying for my lessons and Master X won't help me."

Or "Don't sign a contract with Master X"

And show up to each and every class that your contractually entitled to attend--for as long as your contract allows.

My bet is that the contract does NOT spell out what a student can wear in class--nor that she actually has to work out.

Maybe she can just sit down in the middle of the dojang and refuse to participate--contract entitles you to training--probabaly does not say YOU MUST ACTUALLY TRAIN.

When asked why--there is no reason that she can't tell people the EXACT facts of the matter--that she her family is financially strapped, that she can no longer afford a "hobby" like MA and that the no one is helpling her get out of her contract.

Another tactic would be to just suck up all the class time in asking for help---the contract entitles you to training SO DEMAND IT--each and every class that is taught--monoplize the teaching time.
You have a contract that entitles you to training----so demand you get what you are paying for.

Interrupt the teachers, make them focus on you all the time.

Refuse to do punishment drills----contract does not say you HAVE TO.

Talk back to the teacher--contract does not say you must obey.

Refuse to spar--give what ever reason you like-- but do NOT give up your place on the mat---you have a contract that promises you training--ask to be taught something else while the others spar.

Be as disruptive as possible--but resonably so--each and everything you do and ask MUST be resonable within the terms of the contract.

If other students get upset--just tell then that you have a contract--you paid good money for it and your going to get what you paid for.

If they take the hint and start getting as demanding as your being--so much the better.

Refuse to wear the school uniform--chances are the contract does not spell out exactly what a student is allowed to wear.
The teacher can SAY anything they want--if its not detailed in the contract--then its not binding.

When they get upset, loudly and publically remind then that YOUR the customer here, you have a contract and you will wear whatever you feel like wearing.

Wear shorts and t-shirt to class--when the other students say something/ask tell them that they can do it to.

Show up wearing a uniform with the contact phone number and name of another school--again, if its not spelled out in the contract then you can put anything you want on your uniform.

Wear sneakers on the mat--again, if the contract does not specfically forbide it--then you should be able to wear what you want--DON"T hurt the mat/surface.

Dye your uniform pink, or bright red or purple, again, if its not speeled out in the contract--then you probably don't have to do it.

Wear your earphones to class--unless the contract expressly forbides it---you have a right to listen to music as long as no-one else has to listen to it.

College students have usually have lots of extra time.
Make the dojo a "home away from home" hang out their anytime its open---use its washroom, study there, hang out in the lounge and talk to perspective clients.

Make a habit of introdicting yourself to anyone that you don't know at the school, parents, "drop bys" whatever--tell THEM your contract problems--no law says you can't tell people the factual truth about the problems your having.

(double check the contract itself--might be a non-disclosure clause in it--doubtful--but be sure.)

Are you allowed to bring a "guest" to the classes??
Most schools allow it.
College campus are usually crawling with guys--BIG GUYS, some whom might have training before--or might play a contact sport.
Take one of them to the class---EVERY CHANCE YOU GET--and have them be loud and obnoxious and throw their weight around with whomever they are working out with.
DON"T HURT ANYONE--just be the "teachers nightmare" for as long as the class lasts.

If the teacher says you can no longer bring a "guest" then make sure that NOBODY else can either--a rule applied JUST TO YOU is unfair and probably is a breach of the contract.

How are the facilities--rest room spotless? Locker room spotless?
If they are NOT lodge an offcial complaint.
Most cities have specific codes about restrooms etc--if the teacher is NOT in complience with the code--then its your duty as a citizen to report them.

Many cities have regulations as that a sports teachers must have CPR etc training--does yours--and is the teacher in complience?? Find out.

Show up late--demand to be taught--contract proabably does not expressly state that you must be on time to be taught.
Make the teacher play "catch up" with you.

Leave when it suits up and when asked, very publically remind the teacher that YOUR THE CUSTOMER HERE AND YOU HAVE A CONTRACT and that "you'll leave whenever you feel like it."

Have people call your cell while your in class, stop whatever your doing to answer it--have long conversations--if the contract does not specfcially forbide you to answer your cell--then AGAIN publically remind the teacher that "your the customer, you have a contract and you'll talk to whomever you feel like when ever you feel like."

Again, be a pain in the rear about it--but DON"T get make the phone calls disruptive to other students---just the teacher.

Refuse to call the teacher "master" or whatever term is being used.

Chances are pretty good that the cotract does not specifically spell out exactly how the teacher is to be addressed.

Call them by their first name whenever possible--all the time.

When you ask a question say "Hey Bob, how do I do "X" again?"

When they get upset and correct you--just tell then loudly that your the customer, that you are paying good money to be here and you have a contract--you'll refer to them as you like.

On that note--be as condesending and authortative as you can---loufly remind them that in effect THEY WORK FOR YOU and you'll speak to the "hired help" any way you like.
Remind them that you have contract for training.
Be as abrupt and demanding as nitpicky as you want.

Be open about it--THEY WORK FOR YOU--act like it--order them about, you tell THEM what you feel like doing, how you want things done.

Bottom line is that if your stuck--so is the owner.

If they won't be resonable about the contract---then make sure that your going to HOLD THEM TO IT.

Make sure that they understand what the next several years are going to like for them.

Overly demanding customers are the bain of a busniness.

If they refuse to be resonable---then DEMAND your contractual rights.

Heck, depending on the classes she is takeing, might get one hell of term paper out of it.


Edited by cxt (01/18/07 11:51 AM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#335063 - 01/18/07 11:31 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3116
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello CXT:



Bravo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Excellent solutions, see if more members/visitors to FA's can contibute more solutions of that type!

Does AZ have a "Health Club Act"?

From what I understand in our state at least (and I could be completely wrong???) most martial arts studios fit under the health club law, which several states apparently have some version of...

Many health club laws mandate termination every year . long term contracts are not allowed.

Please let us know how things turn out... there are a lot of folks here who I am confidant will help her with more detailed solutions...

At 22, she should have an older friend go with her to attempt this discussion a second, third, forth time. At 22 I would not have had the skills to have that conversation alone...

Perhaps the friend could be a columnist from the local newspaper (whether they are or not...) and take notes for the negative article on ~martial arts contracts~.

Jeff

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#335064 - 01/18/07 12:55 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Ronin1966]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
See if you can get a copy of the contract and post it so we can "check it out"

Laura

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#335065 - 01/18/07 01:07 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
cxt -



I love it!
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#335066 - 01/18/07 02:18 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
remind me to never p*ss you off cxt ...you sound even more of a pain-in-the-a$$ than I can be.

I'd love to see what an actual martial arts contract looks like. either the one in question, or just one for example. could anyone get a scan of one? just blank is fine.

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#335067 - 01/18/07 05:36 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: MattJ]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Matt J

What can I say?

I really can't stand bullies and people takeing advantage of folks.

Ed, good idea, I would really like to see the contract in question as well.

Ronin--good call on the Health Club Act---I totoally missed that.

If there is one there--shes good, problem mostly solved.


Edited by cxt (01/18/07 05:37 PM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

Top
#335068 - 01/19/07 05:51 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Chris.... you da man...

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#335069 - 01/19/07 01:30 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: eyrie]
Sorin Offline
Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Oxford, MS
Great suggestions. I like the idea that if he won't let her out of the contract, then she should just push the contract to the breaking point. I'm not completely sure of the wording of the contract, but I'll see if she can't get a copy and send it to me. Surely he can't object to giving her a copy of the contract that is between the two of them?

Thanks for the suggestions, I'm sure any one of those would make the guy opt to deal with the situation in a better way. Hopefully he doesn't decide to rewrite his contracts to include behavior, clothing, etc.. for future generations.

Sorin

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#335070 - 01/19/07 01:56 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Soran

If you can scan it--I'd take the name of the school/owner/principles OFF what you post.

And make sure that there is not some kind of "non discloser" statement somewhere.

Make a copy and black out everything that would "ID" any person/persons or business enity.

Post the redacted version.

Then its just an "example" contract put forth for discussion purpose.

No names, no ID's, just an example we can discuss without it being "personal."

Just a suggestion.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

Top
#335071 - 01/19/07 01:57 PM Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3116
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello CXT:

Assorted Helath Club Acts apparently are pretty good for derailing this type of situation. Bunch of criteria I would think, but not a bad route to try if necessary...

Another one I thought up Sorin, have her/yourself visit the local regional/local court house. Look up the school and the head instructor/instructors for civil lawsuits...

Then chat with the suing parties see how their martial art suits were resolved! Please keep us apprised, lots are interested in this one unfortunately...

Jeff

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#335072 - 01/25/07 02:00 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
JohnL Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 03/24/03
Posts: 4309
Loc: NY, NY, USA


CXT

Cracked me up completely. I'd never thought of the abuse being a 2 way street. I love it.

On the basis of your post, I'm going to visit my local McDojo and sign up for the 3 year plan. I'm then going to be such a pain that they'll be paying me to leave!!!

It'd be worth it just for the entertainment value, but I see this as a money making scheme!
_________________________
John L

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#335073 - 02/28/07 05:18 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: JohnL]
Sorin Offline
Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Oxford, MS
I've finally gotten a copy of the contract if anyone is interested in seeing what one looks like. I blacked out the name to keep the school confidential and took out all of the writing. Here it is:

Please edit the photo to remove ALL instances of school name and personal info


Edited by MattJ (02/28/07 05:27 PM)

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#335074 - 02/28/07 06:53 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Sorin

I'd like to see the redacted version.

Once you get it fully whited out that is.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

Top
#335075 - 03/01/07 01:21 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
Sorin Offline
Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Oxford, MS
Ok, let's try this once again. I uploaded it a little too quickly the first time without getting rid of all of the names. It should now have any name or reference to the school or persons in charge blocked out and all of the information has been erased except for the payment part, so you can see just how much was being charged. Looking at it, I have to say that the monthly fee is significantly more then I've seen or been charged at even some very high quality schools, not to mention the "down payment", but I'll let you guys see what you think about it.








Sorin

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#335076 - 03/01/07 02:24 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
JohnL Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 03/24/03
Posts: 4309
Loc: NY, NY, USA
Hey Sorin

Interesting.

If this is the only document you have signed it is a fairly loose agreement. It is basically signing over the payments to a finance company which is bad, but the good point is that it doesn't refer to any RULES which you have to conform to. As such, many of CXT's suggestions come in to play.

The only contractural element I found which may be worth pursuing is;

They are clearly a Taekwondo school. In fact in point 5 they state that the payments cover taekwondo training only. However, in the programs you may participate in, they have ticked Cardio Karate.

I would take a couple of Cardio Karate classes (if you know a karate friend who can come and watch, so much the better) and then question the instructors qualifications to instruct. You could question what style he does, what rank, and which organization he got his KARATE grades under. Chances are, he's a taekwondo guy rather than a karate guy and if so they may be guilty of misrepresentation.

If they say, Oh he's a TKD guy but it's the same as karate, it isn't.

If they have misrepresented themselves, you need to go into writing stating so. It's going to be a fight, but hey, if you're going to have a fight have a good one.

$7,795 for 3 years!!

That's $2,598 a year.!!!

That's $216 a month!!!

(And gradings are on top!!!)

That's a ridiculus rate and I live in New York!!!

Other people may have other suggestions, but let us know how it goes.

Good luck.
_________________________
John L

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#335077 - 03/02/07 03:05 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
WarblyDoo Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/15/06
Posts: 24
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Interesting how not only to you sign away your right to sue but also the right of your guests to sue should they be injured in the class. As far as I know you cannot give that sort of tacit approval unless you hold power of attorney over your guest, which is unlikely. I know in my school I require even drop ins to sign a waiver directly even though serious injuries are incredibly rare (one broken leg on one of our more "intense" regular students in the 4 years I have been teaching) never an injury to a guest. So if they are not requiring your friend's guests to sign a waiver possibly the threat of a countersuit over a "twisted ankle" would be effective. That being said it would be a bluff as taking it to court could get them charged with fraud, unless of course the friend is willing to break their leg or arm for them.


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#335078 - 03/02/07 03:38 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: JohnL]
Sorin Offline
Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Oxford, MS
I agree. It doesn't list the behavior of the student, so CXT's suggestions would be pretty good. I would love to see the instructor's reaction.

The money they're charging is extreme. And it's not located in a large city like New York. It's population probably doesn't exceed 40,000 at most. It makes me think that when the day comes for me to have my own school, I would never want to use contracts. That's a good ways off, but I certainly would love to teach once I'm out of college and have secured a job and such. Contracts just don't seem like a fair way to get students. It ties them down and forces them to stay and pay. I think a teacher should want to teach first and foremost. Using a contract makes it seem like you think of money first. Just my Opinion. I'll post an update it anything happens.

Sorin

-----------------------------------------------------------
joke of the day
-----------------------------------------------------------
A guy walks into a Judo school to take Judo lessons, but he lost his left arm in an accident.
He asks the teacher if it's possible for him to still learn judo with just one arm. The teacher
looks him over and then smiles. He says, yes, I can teach you. He shows the man one move
and tells him to practice for the rest of class. The next class, the young man expects to learn
something new, but the teacher tells him to practice the move he learned the last class. This
happens for the next few classes and the young man starts getting frustrated until one day
when the teacher walks in and tells him that he will compete in a competition the following
week. The young man says "That's impossible! I've only learned one move." The teacher
smiles and tells him "you'll do fine" The next week, the young man enters the competition
and to his surprise, wins his first match with ease. And the second. He goes all the way
to win the finals. At the end, he goes up to his instructor and says: "How did I win, when
I only know one move?" The Instuctor smiles and says to him, "That's because the only
counter to that move is to grab the opponent's left arm.

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#335079 - 03/02/07 07:27 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
haze Offline
Dragon

Registered: 06/11/06
Posts: 106
Loc: Syracuse NY USA
You could possibly get out of the contract on a medical reason. If a doctor states that you are no longer fit to take said classes. Neck injury/pain, back pain, any kind on nerve problems related to the legs, heart, high blood pressure, there are a million reasons. Do you have any friends that are doctors?
_________________________
David

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#335080 - 03/03/07 02:07 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
IRKguy Offline
Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 56
I'm tempted to say your friend is screwed, since a good lawyer might cost more than the price if the contract. However, if you have a law school nearby, you can get a team of law students working for her for nothing. They might be enough of a nuisance to make the contract-holder drop the case, especially since it seems your friend has no assets to claim, even if the dojang won. It's not a suit worth defending. If she can't pay her dojo tuition, she definitely is not worth suing.

I'm sure the contract-holder has a formula for deciding how worthwhile these contracts are. It's probably a formula based on how deep the pockets are (empty) versus how much effort it would take to enforce the contract (much) multiplied by the hourly rate of their lawyers and debt collectors (more than the payoff). She might have to pay them off, but nowhere near the value of the contract. The bigger of a pain she is and the less she can pay, the less she will have to pay. Bringing in law students will just make her a bigger pain. For every hour the students waste, they're getting college credit. For every hour the company brings in professionals, they are losing money in billable hours.

They could just put a notice on her credit report and hope to be paid someday. Unless she's looking to buy a house or get a security clearance, they will not see anything soon. They know that. They just need to know that she knows it too.

I ordered some stuff from Century for my dojo a couple years ago and for about a year got magazines all about how to squeeze more money out of my students. It disgusted me. Maybe I'm biased, being from a free, nonprofit dojo, but I'm always nauseated by the business end of it. When your friend gets free of the dojang, she might start looking for the nonprofit dojos. There are a lot of us out there, and there's a difference between an instructor who looks at you as a student and one who looks at you as $.

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#335081 - 03/03/07 08:47 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
pretty cool...always wondered what those things look like.

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#335082 - 03/05/07 11:15 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Soran

I really don't like the wording--seems a nearly perfect example of a contract set-up to be sold to a 3td party.

I also note that "membership prices are subject to change at the discression of the academy."
I'd be curious to know why a contractual document would have that little line in it---presumably one signs a contract to lock in a specific amount for given period of time.
Not being a legal pro, I would question its inclusion--why would it be there?---And its enforcabilty in any case.
Just seems weird to me.

Also not a fan of the automatic withdrawl--too many things that could go wrong there.

Clause 4 also worries me as well--in effect it states that if any PART of the contract should be deemed unenforceable--perhaps a portion of it might be found inconsistant with local/state regs--then the rest of it is STILL actionable.
To my mind this would strongly imply that the issuer KNOWS sections of the contract are "questionable" under the local legal system.

I'd also guess that they want the information on the "nearest relative not living with you" is because in a collge town, people are transitory and they need the info to maybe track your friend down.
Could be just boilerplate--but it kinda bothers me.

I've seen MA contracts that ask for the make/model number and licesense plate of your car as well as contact information on your employer.
Overall, this is a really good example or a really bad contract for people to sign for training.

The biggest "red flag" however is no mention is made of how to canceal the contract if you move, graduate etc.

The $200 a month sounds really bad by itself.

There does not seem however any contractual means to prevent your friend from taking some of the actions suggested on this thread.

My guess is that the school onwer has already sold off the paper to 3td party--thus they would have return some of the monies THEY have been paid for the contract.
That would make it a bit more problematic---if he canceals the contract he/she just is not out future monies--they will have return what they have already been paid--or a percentage--depending on THIER contract with whomever bought the paper.

As was suggested above--you might run the contract by the legal dept of the school you go to.

Also you might contact the school paper and perhapsa local paper as well.

See if they will run a story on the predatory business practices of the school/owner.
Chances are pretty good that the school and local communitry send a lot of business to that location---fellow students and communtiy might thank you for informing them of the dangers of doing business with this person.

Perhpas a future reporter could go undercover and see what they are being told--have them ask about how they could get out of the contract if they need to ---see what they are being told.

Poor customer relations and poor business practice make it hard for the whole business community.




Edited by cxt (03/05/07 11:20 AM)

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#335083 - 03/07/07 09:21 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
Sorin Offline
Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Oxford, MS
All very good suggestions. I don't care for the language of the contract either. It's not very fair for the student. It
doesn't give them any openings to get out of it, but it also doesn't state a lot of other things, which would certainly
make some of the suggestions here not a breach of contract. I'll pass on everything and see what she thinks. She said
she was going to have a friend ,who does all of the legal stuff for her army reserve unit, look into it when she gets
the chance. Hopefully this issue can be resolved. Thanks for the advice and suggestions.

Sorin

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#335084 - 03/08/07 11:06 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Sorin

I'd appreciate it if you would keep us posted on what happens.

Its good information for the community to be aware of.

As long as no names are mentioned---I think its important for people to know what they might be getting into.

Again, a BIG "thank you" to everyone that has posted so far, I have suggested to several people that they check out the thread and the information and discussion made a real difference in their training choices.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#335085 - 04/14/07 09:06 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
chromecrazy Offline
Stranger

Registered: 04/14/07
Posts: 1
I have been looking on the net for answers on how to get out of my contract also. I have came across this site and decided to post. i have just started in the school for mixed martial arts and was pushed to sign a contract in order to train. I cant believe that i actually did this and am kicking myself now. I went into the school and talked with the owner and he basically told me to go screw myself. i am so frustrated and dont know what to do. The contract says that the only way to get out of it is to move away but i cant exactly do that having a business here. If anyone has any more ideas.. please help... i really do love the post on being a big pain in the butt.. lol. not sure how that could work tho.

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#335086 - 04/14/07 11:09 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: chromecrazy]
clmibb Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/31/06
Posts: 1035
Loc: South Texas, US
I think it would depend on the type of work you do. My dad is self employed and he travels often. Right now he's in Sacramento and he lives in south Texas. If your job is the sort where you can have some kind of work order drawn up to "call you out of town" then I'd do that. I'd make the "orders" as an open ended agreement meaning that you are being "called to work out of town" for an unspecified amount of time. If this doesn't make sense then you can PM me and hopefully I can explain it better. If getting "called out of town" Doesn't work for ya then I'm at a loss.

Casey
_________________________
"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."- Ronald Reagan


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#335087 - 04/17/07 05:12 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: chromecrazy]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
chrome

What is the exact wording of the contract?

Take out anything about the person or school and maybe we can find a loophole.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#335088 - 04/21/07 09:55 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
Curly Offline
Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 89
Loc: Grand Junction, CO
Yeah that school is a rip off. Screw that. Your friend is SOL this time I guess.

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#335089 - 05/01/07 11:15 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
An informative thread from our friends at Bullshido:

http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53907
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#335090 - 01/28/08 01:39 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: MattJ]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
I hate to wake up a "dead" thread but I am curious, what was the end result?

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#335091 - 01/28/08 04:48 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: SNieves]
Sorin Offline
Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Oxford, MS
I don't know the specifics of what happened exactly. I passed on the suggestions and she said she'd give it a try. I believe she had a friend who was in law school look at the contract. The last thing I heard through the grape vine was that she didn't have to worry about the class anymore. I'll try to check and see if I can't get anymore specifics, but my guess is that the friend may have "pointed out" a few things about the contract and he let her go. It certainly didn't seem like a fair contract from the students side. I certainly hope she tried some of the funnier suggestions personally.

Sorin

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#335092 - 01/30/08 10:13 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
I'm curious if anyone has ever had to sign a contract in order to learn any other art. It would seem silly if I wanted to join an oil painting class that they would ask for a 3 year minimum comittment, credit check and an up front loan.

I've heard people say, 'you get what you pay for'. that doesn't seem to hold true in martial arts, does it....unless of course they are talking about the debt.

I'm also curious how things turned out for your friend.

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#335093 - 01/31/08 07:33 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Ed_Morris]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Perhaps they are using the American University model? Pay per semester, etc.
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#335094 - 01/31/08 11:50 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: MattJ]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
thats kind of how our school works. you have the option of either paying one month at a time or for three months at a discounted rate. More than that and you risk loosing money, especially when you consider how dangerous and accident prone the martial arts are.

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#335095 - 01/31/08 12:32 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Sorin]
fileboy2002 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/13/05
Posts: 999
Loc: Chicago, IL
Rule of thumb: ANY school that makes you sign a long term contract is a McDojo. Period.

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#335096 - 01/31/08 02:40 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: fileboy2002]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
How is this any different, really, than signing a lease, phone contract, or gym membership, or for that matter a 30 year mortgage? Why is it ok to agree to pay for a service for a year for these items, yet not in the Martial Arts?

A contract is a contract, both parties agreed to it. If the person who signed the contract isn't willing to live with the consequenses if they can't fulfill that contract or if they don't read the contract, then they shouldn't sign the contract in the first place. It's not the instructors fault if you choose not to go to class.

Do I like long term contracts? no, but they often provide additional benefits, like saving money over time.

Laura

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#335097 - 01/31/08 02:54 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: tkd_high_green]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
Your comparison is flawed (no offense). Did you get to look at the house and see if it fits your need? Did you get to have the house inspected? Did you receive a report on the inspection? Does that happen with Martial Art schools? Therein lies the difference between these [McDojo] contracts and a home purchase contract.

Also, realize that many of these contracts are designed to lock you in for X amount of time. So, if you get hurt and can't continue, guess what, you continue to pay. Do YOU want to pay for something you can't use? I don't.

If you signed a long term contract for Martial Arts training, that's your concern. I for one will never do that (again). I would be interested in seeing the contract you may have signed (sans the personal information of course).

Quote:

How is this any different, really, than signing a lease, phone contract, or gym membership, or for that matter a 30 year mortgage? Why is it ok to agree to pay for a service for a year for these items, yet not in the Martial Arts?

A contract is a contract, both parties agreed to it. If the person who signed the contract isn't willing to live with the consequenses if they can't fulfill that contract or if they don't read the contract, then they shouldn't sign the contract in the first place. It's not the instructors fault if you choose not to go to class.

Do I like long term contracts? no, but they often provide additional benefits, like saving money over time.

Laura




Edited by SNieves (01/31/08 03:00 PM)

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#335098 - 01/31/08 03:00 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: tkd_high_green]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Because they already know the attrition stats...and plan on making money off of the 'customer' knowing full well how many people quit before one year? Because...when the mortgage is paid you actually own something of value...and most MA is monetarily WITHOUT value? Because it protects crappy instruction, and crappy schools/styles that don't deliver the goods...and you have little recourse for legal action? Whereas...with a house...you can go back to the buyer...there is legal recourse written into the contract.

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#335099 - 01/31/08 03:02 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: harlan]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
Correct. Most home sale contracts protect both the buyer and seller. These MA contracts we are discussing only really benefit the martial arts school and are detrimental to the student in almost all cases.

Quote:

Becuase they already know the attrition stats...and plan on making money off of the 'customer' knowing full well how many people quit before one year? Because...when the mortgage is paid you actually own something of value...and most MA is monetarily WITHOUT value? Because it protects crappy instruction, and crappy schools/styles that don't deliver the goods...you have little recourse for legal action. Whereas...with a house...you can go back to the buyer...there is legal recourse written into the contract.



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#335100 - 01/31/08 04:41 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: SNieves]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
If I get hurt and can't pay my mortgage, I loose my house and my investment. If I get hurt and can't pay my phone bill, I loose my phone service and in either case my credit report is f'd up. How many people are loosing their homes because of the current mortgage scandals? How many people didn't read and understand their contracts before signing them?

I really have no sympathy for people who don't read the fine print, understand fully what they are signing, and then whine about it when it doesn't go the way they want it too.

If people took the time to read the contract before signing it and didn't sign bad contracts in the first place, then fewer schools would offer them.

A good instructor will provide adequate exit clauses, injury, moving, etc, or let the person get out of the contract if they ask, but legally, they really don't have to. You signed it, you agreed to it, it's your responsibility to honor it.

Laura

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#335101 - 01/31/08 05:01 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: tkd_high_green]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
I see. I can't disagree with the "read the contract" thing, but well, I guess you are saying it's ok to create dishonest and harmful contracts and use it even if it hurts folks. For the record, I feel no sympathy for folks that don't read what they sign either. That doesn't make it right for folks to use dishonest business practices, which you seem to be ok with.

BTW: I have to ask, how long is your contract for? Would you be interested in sharing it with us (again, minus the personal details)?

And if you ever want to get out of your contract early, please let us know what happens. I would be interested in knowing what occurs.

Quote:

If I get hurt and can't pay my mortgage, I loose my house and my investment. If I get hurt and can't pay my phone bill, I loose my phone service and in either case my credit report is f'd up. How many people are loosing their homes because of the current mortgage scandals? How many people didn't read and understand their contracts before signing them?

I really have no sympathy for people who don't read the fine print, understand fully what they are signing, and then whine about it when it doesn't go the way they want it too.

If people took the time to read the contract before signing it and didn't sign bad contracts in the first place, then fewer schools would offer them.

A good instructor will provide adequate exit clauses, injury, moving, etc, or let the person get out of the contract if they ask, but legally, they really don't have to. You signed it, you agreed to it, it's your responsibility to honor it.

Laura



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#335102 - 01/31/08 07:01 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: SNieves]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
From a business standpoint, I can understand contracts. I don't care for them personally, but if there are expenses, such as rent, utilities, or payroll...it seems sensible to offer short term contracts to individuals especially when there are incentives to do so.

It's not my cup of tea. Been training for 4 years now without any formal contract. Although, I once suggested to my teacher that I might move on...and he point blank replied, 'You can quit when you replace yourself.' Some contracts don't have an expiration date.

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#335103 - 01/31/08 07:10 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: tkd_high_green]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
tkd

I think you already put your finger on it--a "good instructor" is the pivot point.

I have little sympathy for those that don't read their contracts as well.
Buts its one thing not "read the fine print" and quite something else to be delbrately misled.

A "good" teacher does not do that--but a "bad" one will.

A good contract should protect both parties---if say my phone service claimed that I can get coverage in "X" region and I can't--then its in breach and I'm out of it.
Most martial arts contracts don't so much as mention "instucture suck-age" in the wording.

A proper contract is NOT supposed to be a clever means of taking advantage of someone's ignorance.

I have NO problem with fully functioning adults having to take responsibility for their actions---which IMO should INCLUDE poor teachers and "scam-a-rei."

Fast-talking some poor sap into signing a punative and predatory contract is IMO something that one needs to be held responsible for.

But I do agree that signing a contract just to get a lower payment then deciding to quite--essentially taking advantage of the teacher--is also something you might need to take your lumps over.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#335104 - 01/31/08 07:49 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: tkd_high_green]
fileboy2002 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/13/05
Posts: 999
Loc: Chicago, IL
The difference is that you and the martial arts instructor do not approach the contract as equals. A martial arts instructor has FAR more power to decieve a prospective student than a prospective student has to detect potential deception.

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#335105 - 01/31/08 10:34 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: fileboy2002]
Itami Offline
Newbie

Registered: 01/20/08
Posts: 14
We use contracts at my school and we 'sell' them to a 3rd party. While we work with our students a lot more than most (if they're injured we're credit them the amount of time they were out for no extra, if they're financially in trouble we'll freeze their account or find a price that's reasonable [or in same cases, like kids that don't have a choice, we'll let them take for free if they do some cleaning for us everytime they come in]), it can still be a problem when they cancel.

Most 3rd party collectors charge schools if a student breaks a contract. The standard I am aware of is 2 months + 10% of the remaining balance. For us, if they move more than X miles, have an injury or health condition w/ doctor's note, etc. they get out no problem and we'll help them.

While I don't like what happened in this situation, it's still something people have to be aware of when signing contracts. It does help business to have contracts and a 3rd party collectors (we have around 150 contracts with several hundred students, we'd have to hire someone full time just to keep track of money and chase down delinquency!), but repeat customers will increase your revenue and school performance more than snatching people like this.

And 2 years for a first contract? That's crazy.

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#335106 - 02/01/08 01:10 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Itami]
Sorin Offline
Member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Oxford, MS
Contracts can be used to help earn money and collect money from students, especially in larger schools such as yours. It can even help keep some students coming to class, since they will have to pay whether they go or not. One problem with them though, is that most people don't know what they're looking at. This is when quite a few one sided contracts get issued. They see this nice teacher with all these stripes on his black belt who (in their minds) could kill everyone in the room in an instant. In my experience, most people who see the black belt, typically seem to trust you a great deal more. This would cause them to trust what the teacher says and not pay as much attention to the fine print. They may even agree if the teacher says: "Little [censored]/Jane should join the super flying spider monkey black belt club!! It's only an extra $300 a month, and they get a cool patch and an extra hour of intense training!! Most people don't know what's good or bad. What's a good price to pay? What about all of the other testing fees, etc..? God knows there are enough of those questions on these boards from newbies. It's a shame people don't do a little bit more research before making a decision.

Sorin

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#335107 - 02/01/08 11:03 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Itami]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Quote by Itami -

Quote:

repeat customers will increase your revenue and school performance more than snatching people like this.




Well said! Word of mouth is BY FAR the best kind of "sales technique".
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#335108 - 02/01/08 03:04 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Itami]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Itami

Sounds like you guys are providing good customer service----sadly you can't count on the next guy doing the same.

Quick question--if the contract states that if one "move more than X miles, have an injury etc"

Then why would you need to "help" them?"

If those are listed contractual obligations then no "help" should be needed....it should be a simple matter of cancelation and proof of move etc.

What happens if someone gets injured and rather than have their contract "frozen" they just have no interest in training with the person/s that hurt them--or at the school that allowed them to be hurt??
Just a question--I've been in schools where they allowed some pretty hardcore sparring and failed to watch that newbies didn't get hurt.
And I have seen schools where nearly every senior member of the school had knee injuries thu their approach to training.
How would you handle a student that refused to do "X" bcause they have concerns for their health?

My problem/s with 3td parties are many--but from a business standpoint it places what are effectively PR/Marketing functions in the hands of a "3td Party" that cares exactly NOTHING for the success of ones business---they are in busines to COLLECT the money they already paid the 1st party for--not to see that collections are handedled with consideration and care.

I can almost assure you that few people will recall that your nice enough to allow folks that are havng payment problems work around the school for a cost break BUT they WILL remember and tell EVERYONE they know about what a jerk the collections company was that kept "harrassing" them.

And "harrassing" is exactly what they will say.

IMO a better approach to "delinquncy" is to be more selective in your choice of customers.

Very different business model however.


Edited by cxt (02/01/08 03:10 PM)

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#335109 - 02/01/08 04:36 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Quote:

I see. I can't disagree with the "read the contract" thing, but well, I guess you are saying it's ok to create dishonest and harmful contracts and use it even if it hurts folks. For the record, I feel no sympathy for folks that don't read what they sign either. That doesn't make it right for folks to use dishonest business practices, which you seem to be ok with.




More and more often, it seems that we are a culture of wanting everything for nothing, that it's ok to break promises? If more people read their contracts, then dishonest business wouldn't get away with it. It's one thing if the person is injured or moves, but what about the lazy SOB who just doesn't care to motivate and go train? If the instructor agrees to teach 15 students, those students agree to pay for that service to cover the cost of the building and equipment, and then half of them don't show up, it hurts both the instructor who is stuck with the bill, and the other students who can't train because there isn't enough income to cover the costs.

Proper escape clauses should be included in any contract, injury, moving, loss of job, etc. But is it fair to the instructor to allow breach of contract just because the student is unmotivated or has lost interest? That student agreed to do something for a length of time, seems to me they should be just as responsible.

Laura

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#335110 - 02/01/08 05:43 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: tkd_high_green]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
It's simple...really. Without long-term contracts, the marketplace will determine the success or failure of these 'businesses'. Quality will be allowed to rule. Bad 'businesses' will fail. Instead of selling the promise that 'martial arts is for everyone', and capitalizing on the constant turnover of clueless 'customers'...the shorter-term contracts actually force them to fulfill the needs of the 'customer'.

On the other hand, if you want dedicated 'students' that stick around and support a 'school'...say for 5, 10, 20, 30 years...you HAVE to offer an art that is substantial.

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I see. I can't disagree with the "read the contract" thing, but well, I guess you are saying it's ok to create dishonest and harmful contracts and use it even if it hurts folks. For the record, I feel no sympathy for folks that don't read what they sign either. That doesn't make it right for folks to use dishonest business practices, which you seem to be ok with.




More and more often, it seems that we are a culture of wanting everything for nothing, that it's ok to break promises? If more people read their contracts, then dishonest business wouldn't get away with it. It's one thing if the person is injured or moves, but what about the lazy SOB who just doesn't care to motivate and go train? If the instructor agrees to teach 15 students, those students agree to pay for that service to cover the cost of the building and equipment, and then half of them don't show up, it hurts both the instructor who is stuck with the bill, and the other students who can't train because there isn't enough income to cover the costs.

Proper escape clauses should be included in any contract, injury, moving, loss of job, etc. But is it fair to the instructor to allow breach of contract just because the student is unmotivated or has lost interest? That student agreed to do something for a length of time, seems to me they should be just as responsible.

Laura



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#335111 - 02/01/08 05:52 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: tkd_high_green]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
TKD

Not disagreeing--not really.

But could you not ask the same question of a person that provides sucky instruction and lousy classes and still expects people to show up and pay good money for their "lessons"???

You often have to sign a contract pretty early on to train---anything can look good with just a little bit of exposure.
Is it the students fault that at just 3 classes what they thought they knew about the school does not hold up say 6 months later??

Heck for that matter--if the student is "unmotivated" is that all the students fault???? Or does the teacher have to bear some of the responsibilty?
If the class is way to hard for me physically, or just really boring---is that all the students fault???

I agree with you--and I HATE people taking advantage--either direction.

I think part of the problem is that many owners/teachers want it both ways on these kinds of issues.
As in your example---sometimes they want to treat the whole thing a simple business transaction---but they ALSO often want to be seen as "sensei" and treat the interactions as something far more than "just" business.

If you look at any other business contract and compare to martial arts you can see where the reasoning breaks down.

I sign a contract with a rug cleaning firm to clean my carpets and they fail to get them clean--I can walk away and contract be damned.
Do martial arts schools expect to be treated the same??

Its "all business" when its time to get paid---but its "I'm the sensai" when it comes to how one expects to be treated by the students......or would it be "customers????"

IMO there are a whole raft of things that would need to be changed should one wish to apply a true business model to martial arts instuction...not the least of which would be needeing to establish some sort of rough performance standards for evaluation----anybody want to submit their school to another systems standards????

As harlan points out above (a really good point/way to say it BTW ) --in the abscence of contracts--market forces would take a much greater role in the "success" or "failure" of a given school.

A good question for any business owner might be:

"If I let my customers out of their contracts--how many of them would still CHOSE to do business with me????"

If a large propertion of a given business customers are only there until the time runs on their contracts---and only stick around because of punitive clauses in the contract itself----then IMO that is business with some SERIOUS problems.....problems that are only DELAYED by the contracts.





Edited by cxt (02/01/08 06:05 PM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#335112 - 02/01/08 09:15 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
You know...I think people tend to be supportive of the systems they are in. Laura will be pro on contracts because that is something that seems to work well in her school, and I see them as in the way as that is what I am used to.

I would, however, be interested in seeing how the supporter and naysayers break out. How about a poll?

Do you support contracts...and if you do...do you get any benefit? For example are you paid to teach, get lesser tuition, etc?
Contracts
Only one choice allowed


Votes accepted starting: 02/01/08 09:14 PM
View the results of this poll.

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#335113 - 02/01/08 11:56 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
Itami Offline
Newbie

Registered: 01/20/08
Posts: 14
Quote:

Itami

...

Quick question--if the contract states that if one "move more than X miles, have an injury etc"

Then why would you need to "help" them?"




If they have a legitimate reason to break the contract and they have the proof, the collection agency we use will usually have them jump through all the legal hoops to make sure it is legit (after all, they're wanting their money too). We make sure to keep close contact with those handling our student contracts, so if we know someone is moving we'll call our representative and let her know everything clears up. When we do that, they typically handle it a lot faster and will ask for less paperwork.

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What happens if someone gets injured and rather than have their contract "frozen" they just have no interest in training with the person/s that hurt them--or at the school that allowed them to be hurt??
Just a question--I've been in schools where they allowed some pretty hardcore sparring and failed to watch that newbies didn't get hurt.
And I have seen schools where nearly every senior member of the school had knee injuries thu their approach to training.




It is a contact activity so we do have injuries, but we try to handle it properly so people don't leave disgruntled. We're a business, but we care - if anyone of the people I teach get hurt (at the dojo or doing another activity) I constantly call them and write them to see how they're doing. We've only had maybe 2 or 3 cases of people intentionally hurting someone, each case it was a midlife crisis adult male trying to prove something - and each case we kicked them out, paid the collection agency the dues out our pockets, and watched over our student til they could return.
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How would you handle a student that refused to do "X" bcause they have concerns for their health?



We've had people who were quite obese, legally blind (very sweet girl), in their 60's (funny old fart), and have had a slew of other medical problems. We do our best to change up an activity if they're unable to do it, or if doing the drill can hurt them. Feeling a burn while working out is great, getting a burning feeling from injury ain't so good.
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My problem/s with 3td parties are many--but from a business standpoint it places what are effectively PR/Marketing functions in the hands of a "3td Party" that cares exactly NOTHING for the success of ones business---they are in busines to COLLECT the money they already paid the 1st party for--not to see that collections are handedled with consideration and care.


I don't usually handle it, but we actually get a list of our people who don't pay and we try to handle it ourselves. It's only when we don't have any luck or they blow us off (hearing "Oh yeah, I'll come in tomorrow and give you the papers you need!" for several weeks in a row, all the while they're still taking class) that we let the collection agency handle it. I am not sure if this is our special policy we have setup, or if this is how our collection agency prefers to do it, but it's the way it gets done at my school. It's a real eye opener to hear of these other examples.


And as for delinquency, it'll happen no matter what. The only people we never fear delinquent payments from are those that paid in full up front


Sorry if this is getting off topic of the original post (and that I typed so much!), but it's an interesting topic to discuss. That's what I -LOVE- about this place, I'm finding out information and situations that seem common out there that I've had no experience with or knowledge about. I believe whole heartedly in practice what you preach. I find it sad that so many schools that teach about ethics allow unethical business practices (whether directly or through a collection agency working for them).

I really hope some of your suggestions on the first page were attempted, cxt!

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#335114 - 02/02/08 12:08 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Itami]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Harlan,

We don't have contracts at my school, you either pay up front for one month, or for three months (at a slight discount). We actually use the "we don't have contracts" bit as part of our sales pitch. However, I'm just trying to play devils advocate and show how a contract can be a good thing if not abused by both parties. And that a contract in and of itself, does not indicate a "mcdojo" as it could be nothing more than the owner of the school not wanting to deal with having to write out bills each month. We went to the three month option because it took my instructor so much time to write out the bills and keep track of who's paid, etc. Having just a few people not pay, for whatever reason, can add up quickly and seriously affect the owners ability to pay the bills.

Laura

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#335115 - 02/02/08 02:23 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: tkd_high_green]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
TKD

Don't disagree--seriously.

Having a contract is not a automatic "McDojo."

I'm just talking things through.


Edited by cxt (02/02/08 02:28 PM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#335116 - 02/02/08 02:26 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: Itami]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Itami

Sounds like you folks have a good plan and working it well.

I don't think its all that off topic--its good information.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#335117 - 02/02/08 04:27 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
TKD,

The way you were writing it seemed you were supportive of contracts and that you had actually signed it. Had you actually indicated when I first asked about your own contract, I would have known you were playing the advocate.

Realize the context of which we are speaking: Bad contracts. A good contract will be fair to both parties. A bad contract will not. An example was shown above and another linked at Bullshido that shows a contract that is harmful to the student and only helps the school.

I still think you are missing that important point. We are talking about BAD contracts, not a contract that is set up for a mutual gain. i.e.-home construction. Build it after being paid, or get sued. Etc. etc.

My "model" is as follows:

After a two week trial, Students complete their registration form and pay their registration fee which covers the first month's tuition. They get a student packet. 6 weeks after registration, they pick up a free uniform. This tells me they are dedicated and want to pursue training so I reward them with something tangible and useable (unlike a star on a uniform that rewards someone "doubly" for something they were already recognized for...which is another topic entirely). They pay month to month on a verbal agreement. You show up one day for a month, you owe for that month. If you don't pay, you are supposed to be asked to leave (I have yet to ask any of my students to leave for not paying; we usually work it out). I am fair and honest with my students and I have no inclination to harm them with dishonest business practices.

Hasta.

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#335118 - 02/03/08 01:02 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: SNieves]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
SN

Just because I think its an interesting business model.

I know a guy that uses contracts--sort of.

Prospective students have to come to at least 5 classes---they prefer 10, no charge--if they decide to sign up they either sign a 6 month contract or pay "X" amount UPFRONT (maybe $300---been awhile since I checked) no refunds.

He explains it to the prospective students like this---my paraphrase:

"Brand new students take up much more of my time---and that is time I have to take AWAY from my long term students, so I need to make sure that I'm not wasting my time with people that are not serious......"

When the 6 month "trial period" is up---students go stright to a "handshake" agreement on a month to month deal---you show up you pay for the month---you can train as often as the doors are open.

Most people tend to just pay the whole amount upfront.

And most people stick it out--the average length of time for a student in his school is appox 5 years---with about 50% of them starting around age 13.
About 20% of his students are from a local college.

He also only uses White, Green, Brown, Black belt ranks---and you have to be 18 years old min to test for Shodan....so he has a decent size group of students that take their Shodan test when they come back from college on summer break---about 35% of those people keep coming back to train over the summers while they are in college as well.

Like I said, an upfront cost to cover the time where people need the most time and attention (in his opinion) and after that a simple handshake.

Guy does not use his school as his sole source of income---he has a pretty good job--runs his own contracting company.
He teachs because he likes it--and the monies generated get shuffled into an investment account........last time I ran the numbers he had at least 10K or more a year free and clear to invest--may not sound like much--but think of it over say 5-10 years plus of time---and that is all "extra" cash, did not come out of his pocket.

Think of what an extra 10K a year added to a retirement account could do....esp since its "extra" and would not be coming out of your standard of living.

Like I said, just think its interesting.


Edited by cxt (02/03/08 01:20 PM)

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#335119 - 02/03/08 09:15 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: cxt]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
That IS an interesting business model. I hope he doesn't mind if I adopt and modify it for my own use.

Quote:


He also only uses White, Green, Brown, Black belt ranks




We also only have a smaller number of colored belts than other dojos. From 10th kyu to 1st dan it's similar to his. At 5th Dan it's white/red (Shihan), then Red Black at 7th and Blood Red at 10th (only one person in our system holds that rank and he's fairly old; mid 70's).

Osu.

Hasta.

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#335120 - 02/04/08 11:27 AM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: SNieves]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
SNieves

I sure that he would not care.

Please keep me in the loop on if you get any mileage out of it.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#335121 - 03/12/08 03:16 PM Re: Contracts made by schools [Re: MattJ]
Hapkid0ist Offline
Member

Registered: 09/20/05
Posts: 125
Loc: Hollyhood, Ca.
One thing I have learnt is that a contract does not guarentee payment. As a matter of fact in the ma community more and more people are becoming against contracts, but if the studio you join has one then it is your responsability to ensure that you can afford this serice for 3 or so years. It is no different than a gym membership at say 24 Hour fitness. You join for a service and are expected to live up to your responsabilities. I see nothing wrong with contracts. What I see wrong with them is the iron clad nature of them that do not take into account peoples changing financial conditions, the economy and other influinces. But, if you sign one then you are agreeing to be responsible for the fees for x many years. If you can't then signing is something you should'nt have done. That being said. Always ask what the outs are and if there are any outs for a change if economy and finacial situations. If they say they can/will work with you then get it in writing, and have it be specific. Personally I think a month to month contract is the best way to go. Safest for all partias involved to. Simply put, a contract does not guarentee payment, just headache.
_________________________
D.W. McCullar, Hapkido
I.H.K.A./I.H.M.U.Ca. Chief Instructor, 5th Dan
www.ihmuca.com

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