First of all, ATA Martial Arts does not provide the level of training many go there expecting. Belts are practically given away just for showing up! The ratio of instructor to pupil is inadequate. Most importantly, they operate on a get-them-to-sign-as-quickly-as-possible system. They are taught this and other unethical business practices in their business seminars. They are also told to get people into their leadership program as quickly as possible--the money they get per month doubles. And do not expect that you are chosen for the leadership program for your great potential--they offer it to everyone. They refrain from making it clear to clients that they are signing an unbreakable contract.
I was duped into believing that I was merely giving them permission to charge my debit card monthly and could quit any time I wanted to. That is partially true. A client can quit any time he wants to, however, he will have to continue making the payments regardless of whether or not he continues the classes. Yes, I signed a contract, but the top of the paper specifically reads in bold letters "Membership Agreement." The contract part is written in tiny letter at the bottom. While what they do may be legal, it is grossly unethical and manipulative. Be careful!
My daughter and I simply walked into the ATA establishment in Fayetteville NC for information. She only wanted to try it out to see if she liked it. I put down $600 (unknown to me, unrefundable) and ended up paying $200 per month for two months. When my daughter realized that her "instruction" was taking too much of her time and that she was being given less than adequate instruction, she decided to quit. (There were 15 to 20 students per one "injured" instructor)! Out of the "goodness" of their "Christian" hearts, the owner and instructor offered to replace our 3-year, $7000 (!) contract with a 3-month contract. I and a friend, who also wants to quit, were told that if we said anything against the school, we would be taken to court for tortious interference and that if we didn't pay the 3-month installments, they would ruin our credit! Such nice Christian people!
One must wonder how many people per year quit the school and give it $600 to get out of the contract--that's in addition to the $600 nonrefundable fee upfront). In total, they receive $1200 for nothing! When someone object, they like to use the analogy of a phone contract. But the analogy breaks down--if I cancel a phone contract and pay off the phone, I STILL HAVE THE PHONE! When someone walks away from an ATA contract, he has nothing he can sell or trade in order to recover some of his losses--nothing! I caution anyone NOT to sign this ridiculous 3-year, $7000 contract with this organization especially if you have a young child who might change his/her mind. They intentionally seek to entrap you so that you will feel pressured to force your child to continue instruction. If you are an adult looking for serious martial arts instruction, stay clear of ATA. It's not for you!
Such contracts should be illegal and I will work to accomplish that!
Fayetteville, North Carolina