ED Magedson – Founder
Karate America1400 Millcoe Road Jacksonville Fl Internet United States of America
On Monday, December 13, 2010, I went to a trial visit at Karate America on Monument in Jacksonville. Our appointment lasted maybe 15 minutes in the trial part and then I was asked if we would like to join. I was initially excited. They lady on the phone told me that you could negotiate your price with the instructor, that it was all instructor based and that you could say that you wanted to come less times a week for a smaller fee. When we got into the office to sign a contract, however, I was blindsided by the instructor telling me it would be $100 per person (this was to be for my daughter and myself) as well as the gear we would have to purchase. I understood the foot/hand guards, but then he said we HAD to buy the ATA duffel bag, which is more than $60. I asked if it was required and he said "Pretty much." I didn't understand how a duffel bag could be required. There were no special compartments or anything, but I decided that I'd just buy one and share it with my daughter. I asked tons of questions so as not to be confused. I even asked what happens if I want to cancel. Florida Law is three days for cancellation, I was told. In the contract it even states that. It says any unconsumed products may be returned for the retail price, as well.
I went home feeling uneasy about it. I didn't feel they were very honest and I felt forced to sign the contract after very little proof of how good the classes were. My husband told me there was no way we could afford the $200/month and he needed me to cancel it. We decided that we would let our daughter continue and try to swing the payments, but even then we would truly be struggling with the gear they never told us about until the end.
On Tuesday, December 14, 2010, I called the Karate America Headquarters when they first opened. I informed them that I'd like to cancel and why. I was told I'd be contacted by the Monument representative. When she called, she tried to convince me to stay in the program for the month, even when I told her that we truly couldn't afford it. She kept me on the phone for approximately 20 minutes trying to guilt me into staying. Treating me coldly and telling me that I liked it so much before, why am I quitting now? I again explained we would just like our daughter to continue. She wanted me to not cancel my contract and wait until Monday to come talk to them, as I was leaving for Kansas in less than 24 hours and couldn't come immediately. I stated I didn't want to do that because then I would be held in the contract because my 3 days would be up. She seemed very upset afterwards. I was told to fax in my request to cancel. I said I'd bring in the uniforms on Monday and I was told used uniforms weren't accepted as returns. I said, Great because mine haven't been used, and we ended the conversation. I sent the fax that day from my husband's work fax. The only difference was that I requested a FULL refund. After the conversation I had with the representative, I could see the shady business tactics being used. I felt bullied, lied to, and I truly wondered if I would even receive a refund. The full amount was $118.
I went on vacation and returned home. This morning, Monday December 20, 2010, I checked my bank account to balance my checkbook. I noticed that a charge of $80 was posted via Karate America. I was upset because I realized that specific charge was unaccounted for and caused a payment frenzy. I would have had to pay an overdraft fee had I not been quick enough to deposit money from savings into my account. Unfortunately, we're a single income, military family and we don't have an extra $80 laying around to blow.
I immediately called Karate America. I was informed that a letter was mailed to me on the 16th (which I have not yet received) explaining that they do not refund charges for uniforms and they would retain my $80 ($40 for each of me and my daughter). I explained to the lady that the uniforms have never been used or worn and are still in the bag. They are, by all accounts, not "consumed" and as per the Florida law, they should be refunded. She told me that by taking them home I had consumed them and that the instructors will not take returns on them. I tried to reason with her, asked her how she would feel if this happened to her. I now have karate uniforms and we're not taking karate. They're not consumed! If they were consumed, per Webster's Dictionary: "to destroy or expend by use." We didn't use them. In fact, we were told they were FREE with the first month's Karate, wherein we shouldn't have had to pay for them in the beginning. They were given to us the day we signed the contract. I was told by the representative, "Well I guess it depends on whose definition of consume it is." I told her, I believe that by law they go with the dictionary's definition, not what suits Karate America. She said it's posted on the wall that merchandise is non-refundable. I told her not only did I not see it, but that it wouldn't apply if I was told that I could cancel and return it and also that the STATE LAW requires that take unused goods back.
I was told to write a letter to the Membership Board asking to be reviewed. I am sending this as a complaint to you, as well as a request to the Membership Board. I will also be notifying the ATA, with whom they are affiliated. It is my belief that the Karate America staff purposely gives you the uniform at signup so that they can keep your money if you do cancel. It's their attempt to circumvent the law. I also believe they bully people and try to guilt them into staying with Karate America. I asked what the additional costs would be and I was told none. Then after the contract and all, we were told about the hand/foot guards and the bags, etc. and only after I asked because I noticed the other children earlier wearing them. They are a very rude and conniving company. Shame on them!
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 12/20/2010 08:40 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/karate-america/internet/karate-america-tricky-business-and-lots-of-loopholes-internet-673491. 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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