If you are looking to train in a respectable dojo for recreation and/or for self-defense/fitness, do not choose ATA. They'll be extra friendly when you walk in and talk about all of the "benefits" to training there. But once you sign up, they've got you in a vice, and you aren't getting away.
Once you start training, you'll find that there are many things that they left out before you signed up. 60 dollar belt testings (every 2 months, 11 different belts), 50 dollar foam weapons every 2 months, and 400 dollar sparring gear for some examples. It'll cost you 175 dollars for the monthly fee, but students get it at 125. You'll get 3 classes max per week, one of them on a Saturday.
There's another dojo in town that costs $75 (less for military) a month for unlimited classes per week (open 6 days a week, 2 classes a day except sat), has no belt testing costs (only 5 belts), and provides any gear you might need.
Back on topic, after training there for about 6-7 months and training with kids I decided I wasn't learning anything and was gaining 0 confidence. Learning forms and ATA only having the option to spar 1 time per week with extremely strict rules and doing it with kids, I decided it was time to leave. ATA thought differently.
My instructor told me I was under contract and I would not be able to leave. It was never brought to my attention that I signed a contract, because there was no agreement for me to read. I asked for a copy of the contract and he gave me a sheet of paper written in pen of my agreement for them to take money out of my bank account. Literally, that is all that was on there. I told him that this wasn't a contract. No where did it say he was granting a service that I was paying for, and no where did it say I couldn't cancel.
He wouldn't listen and told me that I would either have to continue paying, or WORK IT OFF. I told him of my living condition (being a college student) and my inability to pay for it and the extra fees. He didn't care. He showed no compassion, no integrity, no respect, none of the values that was being taught at the dojo. I was shocked at how unreasonable he was being and how shady that "contract" was. This was really getting out of hand.
I contacted a lawyer and had him look into it. Turns out I was right. It cannot be considered a contract if no services are being provided. For example, according to this "contract", if ATA were to shut down, I would STILL have to pay every month because they don't agree to do ANYTHING, and have no way to cancel. Also, it is stated under RSMo. 407.330 that several cancellation requirements need to be included in a membership contract.
ATA hired an attorney and we've been trying to settle it outside of court but it's becoming a real pain in the backside. I have finally agreed to pay them 2 months worth of payments if they just LEAVE ME ALONE. If that doesn't work, i'm going to have to go to a small claims court. Thank god for parents or I wouldn't be able to afford any of this.
ATA is a scam. This is no way to run a business. The only possible reason I could see someone doing it if it was for a kid just for fun or whatever. But I'd say there are way better things out there (And less expensive and less evil). They have Americanized taekwondo and turned it into a business. I'm upset, but i'm more disappointed. I hate when other give martial arts a bad name.
I'm mostly upset with how unreasonable they are. I wouldn't have filed this report if they just would have let me go. I've also found many other blogs and things on yahoo answers of people with the same issue. We need to get the word out if we're going to stop this nonsense. Thank you for reading.