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Old 01-20-2006, 10:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Karate Contract

Last April we signed a 2 year agreement for our son to take tae kwon do lessons. A few months later, the instructor started pressuring me and my daughter to also take lessons. We asked her how much it would be and she told us $25 for me and $25 for my daughter - that we were getting a special deal. We already paid $150/month for my son. Great, we thought. Fast forward to XMas time and things got hectic and my daughter and I decided to take a break from karate. Last night the instructor pulled us into the office wanting to know when we would resume classes. I told her we didn't know. Her reply was " according to the contract, you have a two month freeze on your membership". I told her my daughter and I were not on the contract, just my son. She pulled it out and showed me where she had hand written our names in and also the amounts of the membership....about 3K total! In addition, I never knew she added us to the contract since it was supposedly a "special" deal. I never received a copy of the revised contract, nor did I agree to begin a membership for my daughter and myself. My understanding is that we were on a "month-to-month" deal. I also never initialed next to her revised contract. I read through my son's original contract again last night and there was no information about a cancellation fee or a termination. How binding is her contract? At this point I was so mad I wanted to pull my son completely out of her school. What do you suggest I do now? Can she sue me for this? By the way, I'm not the first person who has signed a contract and then ceased attending. I feel like if she tries to sue me, then it's discrimination if she has not already sued all the other people before me who broke their contracts. Thoughts? Advice?
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Old 01-20-2006, 04:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This is America and people can sue for anything. Yes she can sue you. Do I think she would prevail....No. Assuming she sues you your defense is that you did not sign a revised contract. The judge would see the original that you have and the revised one that the instructor has.

As for discrimination...Not a likely cause of action. You should write her a letter explaining that you did not sign a revised contract nor did you verbally agree to add you and your daughter to your son's contract thus the revisions are not binding.

Good luck.
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Old 01-21-2006, 06:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Consider sending the instructor a SIGNED copy of the original contract as well (presumably, the one you have) so she is aware you have evidence to dispute any claims that her additions were part of the original contract (i.e., you did not throw out or lose your original). This may be sufficient to ward-off any lawsuit.

Furthermore, bear in mind that even the most malicious out there have limits. Though $3,000 may seem like a fairly hefty sum, it's nothing considering that the price tag of an attorney to launch a prosecution ticks at the rate of $150+ per hour! While I am not suggesting that this precludes the possibility of a lawsuit altogether, it certainly dampens the likelihood.

All the best!

Brad
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Old 01-22-2006, 08:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Wink Kicks, They're not just for kids...

First of all; ALWAYS read a contract throughly.

Ask questions if there are blanks or you don't see everything that relates to your paying someone for a service. It should be very specific and clear about what the person is providing and what your repsonibilities are. It should have an escape clause that provides a means for both parties to disolve the contract agreeably.

When it comes to joining any "clubs" they have a reputation for high pressure and not always disclosing the fine print that locks excited people into long term contracts that don't fade as fast as their intitial interest.

In this case it appears you are locked into your responsiblity for your sons' participation.

However, regarding yours' and your daughters' obligation it's obivious there was not a meeting of the minds about the agreement. Not unusual in "verbal" agreements and very frustrating for both parties when something goes wrong.

Hence the need to: "Get it in writing"!


So pay up to date "in full", at the agreed upon rate per session, for sevices provided to you and your daughter. Explain to the instructor/owner that your position is: The lessons were at a rate of $25 per session/per person and no extended contract was ever intended or initiated; nor do you intend to continue; nor will there be any further payment. Follow-up this verbal instruction in writing.

Remember, "Get it in writing"! Use Certified mail so you have a signature to show service of the letter.

If the instructor/owner throws at fit and foreseeing they will; they may not want to continue on with your sons' instruction. Be prepared for this to happen.

"If" that should happen demand(verbally and in writing) any refund due you for un-fulfilled prepaid services. Give then a reasonable amount of time to respond and then, if you desire, persue it in small claims court. Or do nothing. However, the Chop Shop may persue the issue in small claims court.

Either way, based upon the facts you presented here , you stand a good chance of the instructor/owner tossing in the towel or loosing in front of a judge.

It is up to the the individual whom they sue and don't sue. Save the discrimination thoughts for more realistic injustices.

**note: Remember,this was about your children. Nothing is more impressive to a child, or a quicker way into court, than watching a Parent and a Coach duking it out...

Good Luck!
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Old 01-22-2006, 10:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you to everyone who replied to my original post. While the possibility of her suing me is small, it still exists. While I have no problem with my son's contract, I am appalled that she would hand write my daughter and myself in as an addendum without my knowledge or agreement. From my perspective, it calls into question her business practices and ethics. In a school that enforces "honesty", "integrity", etc., I feel that they completely missed the boat.

What I meant in using the word "discrimination" was that I know of other people who have left the karate school with unfinished contracts. In the event we do not complete our son's contract, I would expect her to "go after" those people first before coming after us. In my eyes, at that point she would be singling us out whereas she ignored others. Perhaps it was a wrong word choice, but doesn't it set a precedent if she does not pursue others but chooses to go after us?

Again, many thanks for your input and advice.
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Old 01-23-2006, 07:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Sorry, Does not apply

"I would expect her to "go after" those people first before coming after us. In my eyes, at that point she would be singling us out whereas she ignored others. Perhaps it was a wrong word choice, but doesn't it set a precedent if she does not pursue others but chooses to go after us?"

No, it doesn't work that way. It certainly may feel unjust and unfair but it all boils down to whom ever they want to sue. Usually the one that torqued them off the most.

Stay cool, use your best diplomatic skills and try to negotiate a reasonable way out of this situation. And then learn from it and move on.

Good Luck
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