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

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.


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

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.


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

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5846
Loc: USA

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)

#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:

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

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:

good luck. don't sign Martial Art contracts.

#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).

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

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.


#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.

#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.

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

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5846
Loc: USA

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.

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

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
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~.


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