My 3 year old son was invited to join Karate America by a friend. He was then enrolled in the Basic Training Program in July of 2006. By the time of signing him up in the program, we asked the instructor what would happen if our three year old would decide not to continue taking karate. You can't guarantee a 3 year old would have the commitment to join a 3 year karate program. One day they are interested in one activity and some months later, they are not. We were guaranted by the instructor that we could leave the membership at any time by paying a penalty of the cost of a month tuition.
A month later, he got a card from his instructor saying that he was doing great in Karate and that soon he will be ready to join the Leadership Program. In the meanwhile, he had been listening from the instructor how great it is to join the Leadership program: the new weapons, uniform, XMA practices, etc. Two months later the instructor told me he would like to arrange a meeting with me and my husband to discuss our son's progress in Karate. When we met in the beginning of October, he presented us with a whole new payment contract for the Leadership program. Again we asked what would happen if our son decided he didn't want to continue karate or if we would move away (at the time we were thinking aboout moving back to our contry). Again, we were told that we could interrupt the membership by paying a penalty.
After a year of Karate my son started saying that he didn't like karate anymore, that he was too tired after school to practise it, that the sparring practice, when paired with a stronger student, were too harsh on him and left him complaining of being hurt in the legs or arms. For months I insisted. I dragged him to school. Many times he was sleeping in the car and I had to go back home. Others, he cried so much, begging me not to go. So, after a year and a half he asked me not to take to karate anymore, which I finally agreed.
Then, my battle with the school began. I called his instructor and told him what was going on, He was very cold with me and said that's not with him or his school in West Palm Beach, but the headquarters in Jacksonville. I called them and was told to write a letter explaining the reasons for cancelling my son's membership. By then, I have to say that we were having great financial problems and paying the school tuiton was a burden to our family. I explained everything to the shcool in my letter, just to get the answer that the membership could not be cancelled.
For weeks I tried to negotiate with them, while they continued to charge me even though my son stopped taking classes. I told them that I was given the word by their instructor that we could cancel the membership at any time by paying a penalty. But that was not the case, of course. When I called the instructor again, he was harsh and mean to me. They didn't show any willingness to cancel the membership, stating that "We are not willing to compromise our company policy for one person and not everyone else".
They say that the first program could have been cancelled, but not the second one. They lured the parents to sign into the Leadership program as soon as they can (because this is a more expensive program), and then they they say that the membeship can not be canceled. Now I ask: Why should I pay for a membership I'm not using any more? For a service I'm no longer getting?What's the difficulty in stopping a membership when requested by the parents? Why do the company prefers to see its name being dragged down the drain by the consumers who have used their service? Why are there so many complaints reports filled by the parents? I tell you why. Because the parents are lied to and trapped in a school policy that is totally based on deception.
I'm writing this report because I want all parents, who are thinking to sing up their kid in karate, to know how Karate America operates in the first place. Secondly, to find a karate school that's reliable. There are many good karate schools out there. A school that's straightforward with parets about membeship and contracts. A school that doesn't entrapped parents in a membership that can't be canceled. A school that's honest.