• Report: #305838
Complaint Review:

StepsBallroomDanceClub / Shane & letizia Carroll / Lon Wilkinson / Ben Henry / Wayne Tucker

  • Submitted: Sun, February 03, 2008
  • Updated: Sat, March 01, 2008

  • Reported By:Amite Louisiana
StepsBallroomDanceClub / Shane & letizia Carroll / Lon Wilkinson / Ben Henry / Wayne Tucker
300 West University Hammond, Louisiana U.S.A.

StepsBallroomDanceClub / Shane & letizia Carroll / Lon Wilkinson / Ben Henry / Wayne Tucker Physical & verbal abuse; bullying; physical punishment; threats; intimidation & manipulation; fraud; problems with contracts & refunds Hammond Louisiana

*Author of original report: Reply to Johnnyphoto comment on Steps Ballroom, Hammond, La.

*Consumer Comment: This is not a true and accurate story

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I enrolled in a dance studio in Feb 2006 and discovered I really liked dancing. I liked the exercise and could see that I was thriving and had a somewhat natural knack for dance. I liked the elegance and ballroom dresses and at first everyone was really nice. I enrolled for more advanced classes and shows; comps; coaching. I began to feel uncomfortable sometimes because I noticed they began to use controlling tactics; evasive behaviors; intimidation & manipulation tactics.

I spent a lot of money for lessons; shows; comps and all of these were prepaid. On three different occasions events I paid for where not promoted by them and they said we could not go but would not refund my money. While a student there, I was beaten and attacked by two instructors causing serious injury and emotional injury to my health. They are experts at bullying, intimidation and manipulation.

I was threatened by them if I tried to do anything legally against them. I am a 52 yr. old mother and grandmother. I spent my life savings there. I worked really hard at exercise to lose weight and get in shape and I was doing great and feeling really good. I studied books and dance teaching tapes at home that I bought from dance supply company and I was persistent in wanting to learn dance like an athlete learns a sport.

In Jan and Feb. 2007 I was physically beaten and attacked by two instructors there. The owners and management would do nothing and denied any accountability or that anything had happened or that I was hurt. It took weeks for me to heal physically but emotionally I am hurt so much that the pain is almost unbearable.

I had told them that since they were not going on a trip that I had prepaid part of that they would have to refund my money and this was when the abuse escalated and then the intimidation and manipulation and just overall bullying continued and I still had a lot of stuff that I had prepaid and I stayed to work through that and eventually found a teacher outside of that studio to teach me and that made the situation worst too because they resented that and after I competed in a competition and my picture was in the paper with my new teacher, then they started acting better; but then when I signed up for another competition with my new teacher; they really started to treat me badly again and eventually I just had to hire an attorney.

I still have events that I paid for there. What started out as something good for a retired person and healthy and everything I had read about pursuing ones dreams has turned out to be the biggest rip off/life threatening/harmful experience because of these snakes in tuxedos that set themselves up as dance teachers. They are a disgrace to any true performer of the arts. They are really crooks, criminals, bullies, liars, cheats.

I had thought that one day I might want to teach dance or have my studio; but these people have hurt me so much that right now I am trying to recuperate, move forward, keep going, let go but sometimes it is difficult to feel anything except the emotional and physical pain. The sad thing is that I am not the only one that they have done similar things to and they have done this for years and they are still getting away with it.

They do not care about me or anyone else. They just use people to milk all the money they can from the customer and they don't care if you get what you want or learn or if you are satisfied. I was told that what I wanted did not matter that the only thing that was important was their school. I was a dental professional for many years and I attended a few continuing education and motivation and customer service seminars and in the practice that I worked my last years, we strived for excellence.

I really do not understand how this business, Steps Ballroom and Dance Club in Hammond, La. is still in business. Some of these people moved from studios in New Orleans and have been doing this many years. How many more people have been hurt by them? I reported them to the Consumer Protection Agency. The Better Business Bureau would not take my complaint.

I have filed legal proceedings for damages for the injuries and another will be filed for the contractual problems. I have made statements to the authorities for the physical abuse which is determined as Battery II.

I am having a really rough time keeping going. I am still trying to dance some. Now, doctor appointments take the place of dance lessons. I don't have income now since I am not working and I used my life savings to take lessons. They told me their school was like a college. I thought I would be able to advance to a career in dance in some form. These people are destroyers of peoples dreams and are dangerous.

The instructor who attacked me, Ben Henry, was angry. We were not dancing and he was not lifting me an a theater arts move. I told him I did not want something in my choreography and he grabbed me with his hands around my face and neck and jerked me back and forth causing severe whiplash. I am still suffering with these injuries.

My teacher, Lon Wilkinson, also on two occasions inflicted trauma to me through a beating on buttocks and legs hitting me many times very hard and also a body slamming session under the guise of being a dance lesson. He had told me that he was very well trained in martial arts so I know he knew how hard he was hitting me.

I don't know what is going to become of me, my dancing, or happen with this lawsuit to try and recover some of my losses. Maybe others will read this and come forward.

Gracie Ponder
Amite, Louisiana

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/03/2008 11:22 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/stepsballroomdanceclub-shane-letizia-carroll-lon-wilkinson-ben-henry-wayne-tucker/hammond-louisiana-70401/stepsballroomdanceclub-shane-letizia-carroll-lon-wilkinson-ben-henry-wayne-tucke-305838. 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 Author of original report

Reply to Johnnyphoto comment on Steps Ballroom, Hammond, La.

AUTHOR: Dancer2b - (U.S.A.)

I agree in that being the loyal, dedicated, talented, comitted to excellence, health oriented student that I am, it was then and is now very difficult to understand and make sense or logic out of what these people did to me. It is probably equally difficult for any legitimate, truly dedicated teacher of performing arts/dance to even imagine that this is going on and has been for some time and they are still getting away with it and I know personally several students who just have not come forward with their difficulties with Steps Ballroom in Hammond.

I consider it my civic obligation and duty to protect fellow citizens and inform them of exactly how I was treated at Steps Ballroom in Hammond, La. hopefully saving many unsuspecting men or women from the regrettably destructive business practices at Steps Ballroom in Hammond, La. Maybe you don't know these people as well as you think you do and they really do put on a convincing facade initially of being a people friendly, legitimate, caring place, teachers of dance.

However, my experience there reveals them to be different than that facade and I was subjected to bullying technique, manipulation, intimidation, abuse, fraud. I am a student of dance and theatre arts and I know what appropriate touch is and training necessary for these activities.

Likewise, there is no confusion that this was a beating/whipping causing bruising and pain for many days for physical punishment/control and also an attack by an out of control angry man using enough force to cause whip lash and injury to the cervical spine resulting in fluid pouring from the nose, difficulty breathing, arms and hands turning blue and a body slamming session causing soreness and difficulty breathing and moving for 3 weeks necessitating MRI and radiological studies to look for fractures and internal bleeding.

Just so you know, a police report was filed and warrants issued and signed for arrests of the two instructors for battery. A lawsuit has been filed in the 21st Judicial District Court, Parish of Tangipahoa. The Attorney's General Office was contacted however Steps would not reply to the representative's letter of the complaint against them. The week of the attacks an officer of the law was contacted and consulted with me, the victim. Also, after the attacks, the two Hammond Police Officers who guard off-duty for the parties and other events , I asked them to walk me to the car instead of the instructors. I told them the reason being is that someone there had hurt me and I did not feel comfortable with the instructors walking me to the car at night.

Once again, the instructors were not concerned whether or not I came back for lessons or not or that they had hurt me. All my money was paid in advance. I was told their policy was that they did not give refunds. If I did not take a lesson, they would be free to take another student. The studio had already been paid and neither the owners, management or instructors were concerned. I initiated repeated attempts to work things out; but Shane Carrol, Wayne Tucker, and instructors failed to make any attempts to satisfy my requests for ins. info for the studio to cover the doctor bills for injuries, refunds of my pre-paid monies, and they continued to deliver uncaring treatment to me a loyal customer and their behavior non-professional and hostile.

By alerting others to the terrible experience I had there, perhaps others will not go through the pain, suffering, injuries to health, financial losses, and injuries to emotional health caused by the gross negligence of the owners, staff, and management of Steps Ballroom in Hammond, La.

Customer service surveys have shown in general that not all victimized consumers file a complaint, rather they just take their business elsewhere. In the case of Steps Ballroom leaving pre-paid money on the books that the customer will never receive the services or the refund of money.

I am exercising my free speech rights and my duty as a lifelong member of this Parish and community to let my fellow citizens know of the harmful, destructive, abusive treatment I received at Steps Ballroom in Hammond, La.
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#2 Consumer Comment

This is not a true and accurate story

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

I have known and worked with Shane Carrol and his wonderful wife for over 12 years. He has and will continue to operate the studio with high ethical standards and he truly cares about his clientele.

I'm having a very difficult time believing the physical abuse claims. I cannot agree with patting someone on the butt nor leg because of false claims like this, we have too many lawsuit happy people in the world, so we have to be careful at where we place our hands but he instructor in this case was more than likely praising the student in the same matter as the professional football players do. I can't say he was right for doing it, but come on...why would he inflict pain on a student? This is how they get paid, if he hurts the student then they could not take any lessons...Doesn't make since. NO. The choking incident is a lie, if a student or non student was being choked in Shane Carrols studio, the police would have been notified and there would be a police report to support this claim. Again, this is a lie and I cannot nor will not believe it ever happened.

Please keep in mind, this case has not been heard in a court of law and at this point it's considered hearsay...It has not been proven to be true and Steps Ballroom will come out of it with a verdict in there favor, not the plaintiff.

Steps Ballroom is a well run facility, Shane and his staff offer the highest level of teaching and they are one of the finest studios in the whole southern half of the US.
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