• Report: #533884

Complaint Review: Karate America

  • Submitted: Fri, December 04, 2009
  • Updated: Mon, December 03, 2012

  • Reported By: Vasili — Ft. Lauderdale Florida U.S.A.
Karate America
1400 Millcoe Road Jacksonville, Florida United States of America

Karate America ASF International STAY FAR AWAY FROM THIS COMPANY Jacksonville, Florida

*Consumer Suggestion: Contracts are Negotiable.

*General Comment: Some general questions needing answers

*Consumer Suggestion: My Experience with ASF International

*UPDATE Employee: Question

*UPDATE Employee: Martial arts training does involve

*Consumer Comment: rip off

*Consumer Comment: It's in the contract

*UPDATE Employee: 2/1/12 In response to Bill Grand Rapids

*Author of original report: contact info for Karate America

*Author of original report: 4 replies within hours... fishy fishy!

*Consumer Comment: What are you teaching your children....

*General Comment: Do nothing which is of no use.?...

*Consumer Comment: Read what you sign....

*UPDATE Employee: In Response To Vasili

*Author of original report: So many complaints... I wonder why

*UPDATE Employee: Confused

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WHAT A SCAM!  It makes you wish there was a little more government regulation in contracts.  In fact, I think I will sue them shortly and likely win due to the following reasons:

Karate America, and their finance company (ASF International), rope you in with a contract that you couldn't cancel under ANY circumstances.  They want you to pay their fees for absolutely NO services rendered if you cannot attend classes due to circumstances outside of your control (i.e. job relocation a week after you sign up, Cancer - apparently these reasons were not good enough for them).

They have zero sympathy and are excellent at manipulating fine print and making it look like you didn't "follow proper protocol" to cancel.  "of course we would have let you cancel if only you had done XYZ" .... right.

Also, on a legal note, regarding their contract:

1) Karate America/ASF International does not have a retail installment seller license. [continued below]....
.....  They are not allowed to engage in these transactions under FL Stat. 520.32
2) They are engaged in an unfair and deceptive trade practice under 16CFR 433.2 by failing to have the required Holder in Due Course disclosure in their contract.
3) They are violating the Retail Installment Sales Act (FL. Stat. 520.34) by failing to have the name of the seller on their contract.

I found out that they reported me to MG Credit in Jacksonville and that this ended up on my credit report.  I called MG Credit and they told me that they do not buy the debt - they only "report to the credit bureaus" for Karate America as part of their contract with each other.  They said I would need to speak with Karate America about getting this resolved so that they could remove the negative report from the credit bureau.  They also told me that they are very familiar with the deceptive practices that Karate America engages in since their offices are down the street from each other and that they have a very large number of complaints.

I then proceeded to call Karate America and spoke with a woman (very heavy asian accent) at their headquarters in Jacksonville (904-724-2100).  I couldn't understand her name, but it sounded like Miss Getnick?

She said there was nothing they could do, and that I would have to deal with the collections agency.  I told her that the collections agency said I need to deal with them.  After a brief pause she said "give me $1,000 right now over the phone and I make this go away).  I refused and she got defensive and said "you have to leave me your number and I will call you back Monday".  I asked "why?" and she had no good reason, I suspect she was trying to get me off the phone.

I told her I'd see them in court...

I will update you all as soon as I get this lawsuit over with.

Bottom Line:  These Karate Masters are only Masters at removing money from your wallet.  And their classes aren't that good anyway.  Save yourselves the trouble.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 12/04/2009 02:02 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Karate-America/Jacksonville-Florida-32225/Karate-America-ASF-International-STAY-FAR-AWAY-FROM-THIS-COMPANY-Jacksonville-Florida-533884. 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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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Suggestion

Contracts are Negotiable.

AUTHOR: Jason - (United States of America)

Karate America in Jax is a business and they are ruthless with their contracts. William G. Clark is a business man first before he is any instructor. 

All contracts are negotiable and can be altered.  Anybody telling you otherwise is a liar.  KA's contract is extremly one sided. KA will try to encourage you to pay a years fee up front.  As nice as the discount is, martial arts is not something you may continue with unless you are very dedicated. Even if you do, what if you hurt yourself.  They won't refund you. They may extend your classes until you are better because they know you may not return and they might not put that in writting.

Ask for the contract to review on your own.  Make changes as they suit you and ask that they are initialed by KA.  You want to cross out anything that autorenews.  You want to cross out or change any termination fee to something more reasonable. You want to cross out any hurdles to cancel such sending a certified mailing 60 days before the end of the contract.  30 day verbal or written notice in addition to the cost of one month is considered fair to all parties.  If KA won't work with you, leave.    

There are several independant instructors in the Jacksonville area including some who are LEO or ex LEO who practice what they teach daily and who are more than willing to work out a contract that benifits you and not just them. 

Anybody who feels unfairly pursued in collections should consider filing a report with the CFPB. consumerfinance.gov/complaint/


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#2 General Comment

Some general questions needing answers

AUTHOR: Yubin Lydto - ()

1. Are the instructors certified?

2. Is the school an accredited school (if you ask and they say what does that mean run for the door)

3. Is the school part of a National Organization (a governing body with rules and regulations)



First of all who are suppose to be the ones doing the accrediting?

If you have a complaint with an owner or employee and both know already whats going on, what good is it gonna do if you go to the other who's either a friend or relative or gets paid the big bucks by the employer?? lol

You have to go outside the "school" to get opinions and business licensing are only going to tell you if theyre licensed and maybe if they have complaints and BBB are just mediators

Are you going to go to China to get the approval?

There is no governing body in the industry of martial arts for ANYONE and there is rampant scamming and thuggery going on for decades and its a small world so the ones making the big stinks are most likely going to be friends with others who are influential and helping them etc etc

SOOOOO whats the alternative??

Master chief Clark just got the lifetime achievement award with an 8th degree black belt which should take at least 3 or 4 years on the average per black belt

Each member certificate has a number and signed by the highest ranking authority at your school or the most senior member (s) of your system. This is how is been done with Kyokushinkai for years. There are many schools that have separated from the parent and still teaches that same system. Separation over political ideals.

It's not that easy. Watch the form. Does it make sense? Will it work? Why does he teach it like this?

Being part of an organization doesnt necessarily mean youre legit
Isiness...people are scrambling to do anything they can to make themselves bigger than they really are

Just ask Al Goldberg and Dan Hect and Eric Kovaleski  and Master Alfredo Torella and Soke Frank Sanchez of the World Head of Sokeship Council 

From a California lawyer and martial arts instructor:
We have this concept that when we deal with martial artists, we should expect elevated levels of honor and respect. In a great many cases, that's true. But I've found over the decades that martial artists are basically just people. Some of them have taken the honor aspects to heart, and others have not. Pretty much like anything else. Same with people of faith, pretty much any faith. Some have taken the standards of their faith to heart, and others have not. In short, people are people. That means there are good ones and bad ones everywhere.

Why does the business license dept say...Inactive since 2008 ?

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#3 Consumer Suggestion

My Experience with ASF International

AUTHOR: Buildscharacter - (United States of America)

I was in a similar situation. I had a membership to a jui-jitsu studio that used ASF. I hurt my back and had a doctor's note saying I could no longer participate and they gave me the whole run around "you didn't file this document", "Your doctors note doesn't say you are permanently disabled", etc. 

I had to cancel my credit card and when I did that, their collection practices ramped up. They "sent me to collections"...which is the collections branch of their business, which they claim is a 100% separate business. I literally laughed at the woman on the phone when she told me that. I had kept all of the documentation that they had sent me and there were horrible discrepencies in the amount they said I owed and how they calculated everything out.

I told her that I was willing to pay if they could show me where I had signed a contract with them. I called them back every week for 5-6 weeks, asking for the contract. They finally said that they didn't have it and couldn't provide it. I explained that the Fair Debt Collections Act required them to provide an explanation of why I owed their company money. Since there was no contract between myself and ASF, there was no option and they finally closed the case. 

I read every line in my contract with the Gym and no where in there did it say anything about ASF International, so that was sufficient. 
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#4 UPDATE Employee


AUTHOR: proudparent - (United States of America)

Sounds like you signed an agreement to bring you or your child to classes and agreed to pay for those classes and Karate America agreed to teach those classes and you didn't hold up your agreement.  And now you're mad because they are holding up theirs.
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#5 UPDATE Employee

Martial arts training does involve

AUTHOR: Karate America Employee - (USA)

Dear Karate Parent,

Martial arts training does involve the need for equipment, just like every sport. The gear is for the safety of
the students, and the brands we use are of good quality, which does mean, unfortunately, its not going to be cheap. We and most of our students feel the price is worth the safety of the students. Also, if you would like to compare
our prices for gear online, you will see that the same gear costs the same or more with other retailers. We cut the prices as low as we can in order to assist our students.

Having a cost associated with testing is a standard in the martial arts industry, and in our association, you get
more for the price. Many schools have no parent association, which means their belts are not accredited. Ours are, which means there is a cost for our parent organization to track those ranks and maintain the system with which to track.
The test fee also goes to pay for any other materials required for the testing and promotion of the students (ie belts, DVDs, certificates, facility to hold the testing, bringing in guest judges, etc).

All of our instructors are certified through our parent organization, which ensures their expertise in the martial
arts as well as in instruction. If, however, any student or parent feels that the instructor is not teaching to the benefit of the students, we ask that they contact the main office (724-2100) immediately so that we may address any
concerns immediately. The requirements to become certified to teach in one of our schools, as well as the constant training our instructors are required to undergo, are strenuous and time-consuming, and its this attention to quality
that has made Karate America the leader in martial arts instruction in Florida.


Karate America Employee
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#6 Consumer Comment

rip off

AUTHOR: Karate Parent - (United States of America)

Karate America is a total rip off!!

When you first sign up you have to sign a contract which is not a big deal. I will be glad pay the $180 a month but the problem is no one ever said anything about all the added expenses that are beyond ridiculous. You have to pay for every belt, uniforms, weapons, pads (different pads when you go up in rank) ATA membership and I can keep going and going and going.  Parents call ATA...ATM because it never stops.

The best part is you pay all of this to have your kids watch instructors scream, yell, threaten and hit (yes hit) students and/or other instructors depending on the instructors mood. I know they call it discipline but I would say its called abuse.
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#7 Consumer Comment

It's in the contract

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

The reasons you can cancel are spelled out in large bold print in the contract. I had to go double check mine. You can cancel if you move more than 25 miles away from an affiliated school, or if the student becomes disabled. They charge a reasonable $150 fee and prorated amount for services used so far. Most gym memberships are the same. If you don't read contracts, you should not sign them. Karate America - if you are not honoring your cancellation policy, shame on you. Contracts are legally binding and they exist to protect both consumers and businesses. 
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#8 UPDATE Employee

2/1/12 In response to Bill Grand Rapids

AUTHOR: Karate America Employee - (USA)

I am the employee who responded to the post from Vasili (response #3). I am confused about your comment that I dodged the questions about our having to respond to online comments. I believe I addressed that specifically:

From post dated 1/27/12: We do have to respond to posts on sites like this from time to time, just like most companiesclearly evident by simply browsing this site. If our practices were fraudulent, we would not have been able to, not only stay in business, but expand, for more than 30 years. We wish we could make every student happy all of the time, but unfortunately, that is not possible. We do, however, try to help in any way we can.

As for the rebuttals filed by customers, what I have found was that one of our students caught wind of posts on sites such as this, posted a few comments herself, and told a couple of her friends in the school about it. That is likely where at least some of the responses came from. I doubt we can post multiple comments like that ourselves. Surely, this website is advanced enough to tell if the responses are coming from the same computers or email addresses or whatever (all that technical stuff is way over my head), or else I would assume the site would be filled with propaganda.

Also, all the contact information listed in the previous comment is easily available on our websites, memberships, or by contacting the main office. None of this is something that we are hiding. Actually, we advertise it on our flyers and websites, etc.

In order to try to win back the confidence of the author of the original post, the membership board has decided to offer 3 months of training at any of our schools here in Florida for free. If you would like to take advantage of this, please call the main office and we will set everything up for you. 

Karate America Employee
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#9 Author of original report

contact info for Karate America

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

Since they're so dodgy, I thought I'd help my fellow citizens who've been robbed by Karate America and Bill Clark with some info I found...

Christina Harrison is one of the execs and here's her number:  (904) 724-2100 x103 and email address:  charrison@karateamerica.info

Also, Karate America is registered under the name:

Blackbelt Academies LLC and here's their tax ID number:  59-334-0409  ... gotta love what you can find on a quick search on www.sunbiz.org!

Go get 'em!
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#10 Author of original report

4 replies within hours... fishy fishy!

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

Wow, what a concerned bunch.

First, a well written reply from an employee that dodges the question of why they get so many complaints and ripoff reports filed against them over at Karate America.

Then, a barrage of 3 additional rebuttals filed by "customers" within hours of the original reply.   Do you people at Karate America have nothing but time on your hands to make false replies to legitimate complaints on the internet, or have you hired an SEO company to place the fake replies for you?

Either way, best of luck to you as you burn in h**l Karate America

Here's some contact info I dug up on them, in case others out there would like to complain as well:


Billing Name:Bill Clark

Billing Street1:1400 Millcoe Road

Billing City:Jacksonville

Billing State/Province:FL

Billing Postal Code:32225

Billing Phone:+1.904724210

Also, here's the guy that makes their cheesy website:   bbarton@marketingbydesign.com
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#11 Consumer Comment

What are you teaching your children....

AUTHOR: Concerned Parent - (United States of America)

Plain and simple parents who let there children QUIT teach there children to be QUITTERS.

Doesn't matter if it's baseball (my favorite), soccer, football, or karate.
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#12 General Comment

Do nothing which is of no use.?...

AUTHOR: Martial Artist - (United States of America)

Do nothing which is of no use. Miyamoto Musashi

Seems most of the complaints on this site about martial arts either is summed up by either I don't feel like paying or Mom and Dad are tired of driving to the lessons.

I've been following a few of these post and finally have to add my thoughts. ALL martial arts schools have different levels of training. It's like golf. Better clubs = more $. A group lesson if you can find any is much cheaper than a private lesson with a PRO.

All martial arts have good points. The better qualified do charge more $. Can't imagine what Chuck Norris would charge for an hour. I bet he'd sign you up on a contract too ;

If your not sure about the school BEFORE joining look for the following.....

1. Are the instructors certified?

2. Is the school an accredited school (if you ask and they say what does that mean run for the door)

3. Is the school part of a National Organization (a governing body with rules and regulations)

But complaining here after the fact seems to have no use whatsoever. You either checked out the school, decided you liked it, and signed up for what you could afford or you didn't.

I'd go back to class pay as you agreedand get what you paid for.

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#13 Consumer Comment

Read what you sign....

AUTHOR: Customer - (USA)

Having been a long time customer I'm not quite understanding these comments. I signed a few memberships AKA Contracts over my time with them. The top of the contract does actually the printed word "Contract" in large font and visible. These so called hidden fees are listed out in the contract. It seems to me if you would have read what you were signing and agreeing to you wouldn't have any of these issues.

People make it sound as if they were forced to sign and hadn't taken any lessons before joining. I surely wouldn't buy a car without driving it first. I'm not sure how you can agree that classes are great enough to join one day. Then those same great instructors are now subpar.

Anyway I'm still happy and paying and training just like I agreed too. Wonder what would happen if you decided your house was subpar and quit paying a year later.
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#14 UPDATE Employee

In Response To Vasili

AUTHOR: Karate America Employee - (USA)

In response to Vasili:

We understand life can be difficult, and we try to assist our members as much as possible. We do, however, also have to look out for our employees and other students. If we gave everyone everything they requested, we would have gone out of business a long time ago, which means our employees would not have jobs and would be yet more people having difficulty paying their bills. Also, all of our students who are progressing and accomplishing their goalschanging their lives through the martial artswould have no place to train. We do everything we can to help our members, but we also have to keep an eye on the bigger picture.

I would like to clarify a couple points about the original complaint: Our memberships are cancellable in certain circumstances, which are clearly stated in the membership in a bold-typed section headed Consumers Right of Cancellation. The process that the student must follow is also stated there.

We do expect members to pay the fees as agreed, as long as we are offering training as agreed. We cannot help if a member decides not to come to class. We still had instructors ready to teach their class, which means we have held up to our end of the membership. If you buy a car and never drive it, the finance company will still expect payment.

Our memberships have been reviewed by attorneys and are in compliance with all government regulations.

Our collection company may have referred you back to us because they cannot change the terms of the debt; they can only collect. The employee you spoke to referred you to the collections company to make payment arrangements, because your membership, apparently, was not cancellable. (I dont know whose membership this is, so I cannot comment on specifics.)

We do have to respond to posts on sites like this from time to time, just like most companiesclearly evident by simply browsing this site. If our practices were fraudulent, we would not have been able to, not only stay in business, but expand, for more than 30 years. We wish we could make every student happy all of the time, but unfortunately, that is not possible. We do, however, try to help in any way we can.

Sincerely, Karate America Employee
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#15 Author of original report

So many complaints... I wonder why

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

While I applaud your smoothly worded rebuttals, I do have to wonder why you constantly find yourselves writing them?

If it were just "bad customers" who complain needlessly, you must be masters at attracting ALL of them right?

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck... guess what?  It's a DUCK.  Karate America smells, looks, walks, and talks like a SCAM McDojo....
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#16 UPDATE Employee


AUTHOR: Karate America Staff - (U.S.A.)

Karate America is not a scam.  If you signed a membership agreement you agreed to make a certain number of payments.  If you failed or refused to make the payments that you agreed to then you're sent to a collections agency.  However, we do try and assist when possible.  Did you request cancellation of your membership prior to being turned over to a collection agency. Or possibly even contact the corporate office to see if they could try and assist you if you had some type of financial issue at the time.  I know that I have been with the company for several years and have been blamed and screamed at by members for everything including the color of the uniforms.  Unfortunately, everyone wants things their way and they want to be catered to because they care only about their situation.  I understand that in your life you and your family are the most important things.  However, a business can not run that way.  Decisions that are made effect everyone in the business.  We have members in several locations and apply a set of rules for everyone.  If you ask us to bend the rules for you, you are asking us to compromise our integrity regarding the rules for everyone else.  Even if you say "I won't tell anyone"  it doesn't work.  I personally had tried to assist someone before and only created a larger mess. Businesses are in business to make money and try and assist there clients as much as possible.  However, it is not always to the clients 100% satifaction. 
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