• Report: #323077

Complaint Review: Karate America

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  • Submitted: Wed, April 02, 2008
  • Updated: Fri, May 14, 2010

  • Reported By:jacksonville Florida
Karate America
1400 Millcoe Road Jacksonville, Florida U.S.A.

Karate America will rip you off. Please do not be misled. They charged me $6,650 for services not recieved. Jacksonville Florida

*Consumer Comment: try again,,

*General Comment: Let me guess ATA employees again?

*Consumer Suggestion: Contact a consumer protection lawyer?

*UPDATE Employee: Ask Questions

*Consumer Comment: not whole story

*Consumer Comment: Oh the Pain

*Consumer Comment: Oh the Pain

*Consumer Comment: Oh the Pain

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I sent the following letter to Karate America, and their response was simply that my account "is not cancelable or refundable." They absolutely took advantage of me. Please do not sign your child up and be taken advantage of in the same way.

My name is &65, and I am the single mother of a four year old little boy named "James." I work to support myself and my son, and I receive no child support from anyone. I attend college full time with the hope that I can better provide for my son and we might someday have our own home.

The reason I am writing to is to ask you to assist me with cancelling my (James') membership with Karate America. When I initially signed up for the program, I was unaware of the various additional costs for uniforms and equipment. It is impossible for me to pay for these things, and it would be embarrassing and emotionally damaging for James to attend the classes and be the only child without them. In addition, my hours at work have recently been cut, making it impossible for me to afford our living expenses and payments to Karate America.

When I first realized that I could no longer afford to pay for my gas to drive to work, the rent, the utilities, and food and pay for Karate lessons too, I notified Mr. Benjamin Brotherton of my decision to withdraw James from Karate. The day I called and spoke with him was January 10, 2008. During that conversation, Mr. Brotherton told me that the only way to void the contract was to provide him with an address from an area where I would not be able to receive services.

When I initially signed up for the program, Mr. Brotherton told me that I would be able to pay a $150 fee to discontinue services. So, I asked him why I could not simply pay the $150 fee. He advised me that the discontinuation fee was not an option after I had signed my son up for the Leadership Program. I was terribly upset when I heard this, since there was NEVER an explanation of the change in terms when I signed James up for the Leadership Program.

At that point, I asked Mr. Brotherton, specifically, what the consequences would be if I could not pay for any further services due to a financial hardship. He stated that the account would be sent to a collections agency, and I had no further recourse. He did not inform me that I could, and should, to write a letter the corporate office for an appeal. It was only after crying and getting myself totally distraught that I decided to call someone above the local office.

The following are the events that have led me to make this decision:
On August 9, 2007, I signed my son up for 36 months of karate lessons at Karate America. This is the first time I have ever signed a contract for services with any type of fitness or recreational agency in my life. When I signed up, I knew that our situation is not easy, but I wanted James to have the best that I could afford, like any mother does. I also knew that life can change very quickly, and it would be unreasonable for me to make such a commitment for a four year old with no option out. So, I made certain that I asked about cancellation of the contract if, for any reason, I no longer wanted services. I was told by Instructor, Chris Box, that I could "opt out of the contract" at any time for a fee of $150.00.

Mr. Box approached me in early November about signing my son up for the Leadership Program. He explained that my son would be able to come in as frequently as we wished and receive special attention and instruction. I was NEVER told about any additional costs at that time.

On November 21, 2007, Instructor, Ben Brotherton, asked to speak to me about the Leadership Program. He described the same benefits that Mr. Box had mentioned, as far as introducing positive role models, etc. into James's life because his father is not present.

Mr. Brotherton then stated that the class would be an additional $40.00 per month. He did not inform me of any other additional costs, which I soon learned I would incur. Mr. Brotherton also neglected to inform me that I would not have the same option of removing my son from the program for the $150 fee. In addition, Mr. Brotherton spent more time inquiring about my relationship status and other irrelevant, personal matters than he did going over the details of the commitment he was asking me to make. He managed to ask me if I would like to go out with him some time, but he was not concerned enough about the welfare of me or my child to tell me of the commitment I was making.

This situation made me nervous and uncomfortable. I was not expecting to be approached like that. I feel that Mr. Brotherton tried to solicit a relationship with me only to take advantage of the fact that I would trust him and believe that he was looking out for my best interests. He knew that I was a single parent, and he took advantage of that fact.

I feel that it was totally inappropriate for Mr. Brotherton and Mr. Box to set me up to trust them and be beholding to them by telling me about what wonderful role models they would be to my son, replacing the father he didn't have. It was totally awkward and emotionally coercive for me. The behavior and tactics of these two representatives of Karate America was more than inappropriate, it was misleading, coercive, and wrong.

Short after I signed James up for the Leadership Program, another parent told me that the students were scheduled to graduate every two months, at a cost of $70.00 per graduation. Mr. Brotherton confirmed this when I asked about it. Soon after, I was told that students would need to purchase additional equipment, including $190 for a single uniform and $60 for a piece of plastic to protect my sons face.

When I questioned Mr. Botherton about these outrageous prices, he told me that I could only purchase them at Karate America. In a later, subsequent conversation, he told me that he felt that "parents who do not purchase the equipment are just being cheap. He also stated that parents who don't purchase the equipment are hindering their children from fitting in with the other students.

So, I feel that the terms of membership with Karate America were misrepresented from the beginning. I feel that I have been taken advantage of and coerced by both Mr. Brotherton and Mr. Box. While receiving a sales bonus for signing unwitting parents up and locking them into unrealistic contracts may be justified as everyday sales practices, coercion is not. In addition, how could either of these instructors be "good role models" for any child? Since when is a good role model someone who takes advantage of you?

I can only assume that Karate America does not approve of such "tactics." Any organization that seeks to raise up and train children to be the leaders of the future should have the highest standards.

My son has not attended class since January 1st because I cannot afford to send him to the karate school. My son and I live below the poverty level in this country. When it comes to making decisions about whether to put food on the table, pay the rent, or pay for a doctor visit (we have no health care insurance and my son is hyper allergic), or pay for Karate, I have to make sure we can live first. I know that you must understand how I feel.

I must restate that I would never have signed the Leadership contract if I had known that I would be giving up the $150 fee option out. It was my misplaced reliance on the intentions and honesty of Mr. Brotherton and Mr. Box that led me into this predicament.

I am willing to pay the $150 fee, as was the original agreement, but I ask that you please help me rectify this situation.
Thank you for your understanding.

They would not do anything to help the situation, and in fact sent me a bill for $6,650 for services that my child is not receiving.

Mom-n-jax
jacksonville, Florida
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/02/2008 08:58 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Karate-America/Jacksonville-Florida-32225/Karate-America-will-rip-you-off-Please-do-not-be-misled-They-charged-me-6650-for-serv-323077. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

try again,,

AUTHOR: Kai - (U.S.A.)

The theme of all these types of complaints is they are a victim. This is ridiculous. They are not victims in any case.

They try to make the claim that a 5 yr old kid cannot take a long term agreement. All one has to think about is how long kids attend school. They attend school for years. Many years. In fact they attend a school of some type until they are young adults.

Then what about church. Kids go to church until they are old enough to choose for themselves.

Why do they always try to play the coercion card when they do not get their way. They send a child to the karate course. The child benefits and within weeks stands ahead of his peers in concentration and self control. This is FACT backed by empirical data .Why does the client always complain but fail to mention all the good that was done for the kids? Worse, they try to get out of paying for the life long changes given to their kid. Its just like going to a doctor, getting a cure but then saying they don't want to pay any more because the kid isn't sick any more.

And then, they say they are not getting the services. That is not the fault of the karate center. That is the fault of the parent who fails to live up to their promises. These lessons are clearly sold with the understanding that the parent will pay whether the kid attends or not. It is written in plain text in plain view. This is not a casual affair where it only works when the parent feels like paying. This is a binding agreement where the karate center must provide the lessons. If one looks at the center they will see the lessons are given.

As for the equipment. This is a must have deal. Just as when a kid plays soccer or football. Its simple, wear the equipment or risk getting a bruise.

As for all the other drivel about being broke or poor or whatever.. The client signed up knowing the cost and then decided to play the "broke" card. This leadership agreement was not a surprise. The kid had to attend a while in some type of starter course first to be even considered for the invitation to the leadership course.

There is always one out of a hundred that tries to get out of paying. They always play the victim card.

They cannot get their way so they use sites like this as a cub to embarrass and try to smear the name of a good karate program. There are litterally thousands of happy clients and just a few like this one.
 
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#2 General Comment

Let me guess ATA employees again?

AUTHOR: Tiffany - (United States of America)

Alright J, and the others....

She is NOT the only parent in Jacksonville who also has signed a contract with you and been displeased with your services.  You mock people who speak out against your contracts. Your contract is unrealistic, and if you were parents you would also realize the strain and challenge it is to have children and wanting them to try everything.

You would understand that people just want the best for their child and try to give them the best, not thinking long term situations for a 3 year obligation would be unobtainable for a child that is 4, 5 or 6 years old.  We understand it is a contract it is an obligation, but your company does not even work with people.  You just say "sorry, should have read the red print."  Someone needs to understand that not everyone is not happy with your service in you company and needs to do something about it. You are a company that has someone sign a contract for kids who most are between the ages of 3 to 12 years old? What child can even sign up without the guidance of a parent, and if that parent thinks they are doing right for the child does not mean your company can treat them like "oh, you signed a contract, sorry." Your reputation in Jacksonville is being tarnished because of your unwillingness to help people. We understand what a contract is but you are unrealistic and pushy salesmen in karate outfit's. 

I had two incidents with your instructors that I and a friend decided not to go to your establishment anymore.  Who would want to go to a company after they have a bad experience?  

Yes, you still offer classes for the 150 bucks a month, but you still have to purchase more equipment? between 30-200 depending on the equipment you decide they need that month to advance to the next belt.

I think the point by this consumer is you would not help her!!! You could have reduced her contract price, you could have switched her to a one year, you could have reduced her fee. You could have helped someone. That is the problem with your company. You get your money and do not care. You do not help the consumer and you have this little paper protecting you, that you say you explain and we do read it, but we trust you in what you say because of your smiling faces and words of encouragement for our children.

I was also told that I could get out of the contract, and was never told about extra equipment cost, never was told I had to pay the full 3 years if I canceled. Gyms do not require contracts anymore, cell phone companies have a 200 to 400 buy out to end. Your company needs to negotiate with the consumer on your contracts especially since these contracts are for children and not adults. Since a 4 year old is not able to sign a contract cause it is against the law, we as parent's do it for our children. 

We have learned our less and a costly one at that. I still am paying my obligation 150  a month and saving money by not going to your establishment about  $60 every 2 months plus what ever equipment you decide to through in between $30 to $200.  I also can not afford this as I am a at home mom and work part-time from home to pay this 150.00 a month, since I am separated and paying my obligation. Yes, I have contacted your company with 2 by letter and once by phone (btw he never called me back) with the same response as your standardized letter " not canceling or non refundable" .. Never asked for a refund by the way. So, I instead of defaulting on my contract, I plan on paying for services you are not providing, but I will at EVERY chance I get make sure to tell my story, and discourage others from signing up with your company.  At least 3 to 4 parents have thanked me!...

Let it be know to parents here in Jacksonville Florida not to sign a contract with any karate place,  I will discourage and tell my story to parents here in Jacksonville. I will not default on my contract and keep my end of the bargain, but as a consumer I would discourage anyone from signing a contract with any karate establishments and soon you.  I will not make it a legal matter or get a lawyer, I will just use the Freedom of Speech Act!!

My goal is not to get my money back but to make sure to get the word out to parents.

  

 

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#3 Consumer Suggestion

Contact a consumer protection lawyer?

AUTHOR: J. - (USA)

Have you contacted a consumer protection lawyer or the Florida Attorney General?
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#4 UPDATE Employee

Ask Questions

AUTHOR: Chris - (U.S.A.)

Upon reviewing your report, we would like to inform you that you did sign a contract. In that contract it states that there are additional fees associated with your membership that are not included in the membership agreement. These clauses are listed directly above the box where you fill out your name, address and phone number; and are also bolded and italized. In addition, if you have questions, please ask, the coporate office address and fax number is listed on each contract if you have any further questions that you need answered.

As far as you being charged for services your son has not received; the classes are still being offered. Non attendance of those classes does not release you from your membership agreement and financial obligation. As long as the monthly payments are made, we happily place training time on hold for a period of time, and then have your son continue at a later date.
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#5 Consumer Comment

not whole story

AUTHOR: Kai - (U.S.A.)

you didn't tell the whole story. You failed to mention the materials you received. Yes, that leadership course usually includes materials. You attended this program for more than a few weeks. How did you miss out on the info all the other parents discuss.
All to often people sign up for these courses, get all they can and then leave owing a past balance after taking lessons and then try to play the "victim" card. This course is not just a place of a little kicking and punching. It is a full course of study.

These programs do not just sign on someone without giving any information. New clients take a short term intro, then move on to a longer starter ,, after a few more weeks moves on to an advanced level. There is no secret to the fees, or equipment requirements.
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#6 Consumer Comment

Oh the Pain

AUTHOR: Russ - (U.S.A.)

Yes, the pain I feel when I read your sob story. Didn't you READ the contract? How is it a person who writes so eloquently failed to understand the first rule of consumers - when you are given a contract, you read it thoroughly!
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#7 Consumer Comment

Oh the Pain

AUTHOR: Russ - (U.S.A.)

Yes, the pain I feel when I read your sob story. Didn't you READ the contract? How is it a person who writes so eloquently failed to understand the first rule of consumers - when you are given a contract, you read it thoroughly!
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#8 Consumer Comment

Oh the Pain

AUTHOR: Russ - (U.S.A.)

Yes, the pain I feel when I read your sob story. Didn't you READ the contract? How is it a person who writes so eloquently failed to understand the first rule of consumers - when you are given a contract, you read it thoroughly!
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