Ultimate Studio Martial Arts Deceptive and Misleading Sales Tactics, Unfair Business Practices, Refu

Bronx, New York 5 comments
Not resolved

Complaint: In early March 2008, I decided to explore the sport of martial arts for my son and thought it might be a good idea for him to participate in classes within a structured setting. So I called our local school, Ultimate Studio Martial Arts, (www.ultimatestudioma.com) located in Bronx, NY and inquired about their classes. I was told that my son could come in and participate in a free trial class to determine if he was interested in joining. Well, after the trial class, my family decided that karate would be an extra-curricular activity and that my son would be able to join. Having sat down with the Program Director, I was misled into believing that instruction would cost only $129 a month with a one-time registration fee of $90. At this time, I was NOT told of any other school fees (such as testing fees, equipment fees, and uniform fees, just to name a few of the MANY fees) nor was I informed of the several membership plans wherein my son could enroll for either a month-to-month, 3 month or 6 month time period. (Only 3 months later, in June, when I decided to cancel, I was informed that I had the option to sign up for either a month to month, 1 month, 3 month or 6 month time period.) In fact, there was no mention of how long my child would be involved in martial arts during my meeting. The paperwork was filled out by the program director and she only mentioned that tuition would cost $129 per month.

Moreover, I was never told why they needed my social security number and I was never told the TOTAL SALE PRICE of the agreement ($1548). In fact, I believe that the paperwork is a loan agreement financed by me and sold to a third-party (I'm assuming it is ASF International), which was never disclosed to me by the program director during our meeting. Also, the full amount of the contract ($1548) was never disclosed and intentionally left blank on the paperwork. Additionally, I was never informed that the paperwork that I signed was a binding contract. Also, the program director neglected to mention that the length of time stated on the paperwork would require my son to be enrolled for the duration of one year, and that I would be committed to pay $129 for one year at a cost of $1548 (again, the total sale price of membership was not written on the contract.)

Furthermore, shortly after my child advanced from white belt to yellow belt, having been enrolled in the school for 3 months, Ultimate Studio Martial Arts informed me that I MUST purchase sparring equipment and a uniform at a cost of $370 in order for him to participate in yellow belt instruction. (There was also a $50 fee for a testing process where 'the Instructor' would test each student to determine his/her proficiency in martial arts.) Also, the sparring equipment had to be purchased through Ultimate Studio Martial Arts at an extremely high cost. The cost of the sparring equipment and the testing fee were NEVER mentioned during my meeting with the program director in early March. As a result, I was unable to afford to purchase the sparring equipment and uniform. Consequently, my son was unable to obtain full and effective instruction as a yellow belt since he did not purchase the MANDATORY sparring equipment and uniform. As a result, I tried to cancel and contacted the owner of Ultimate Studio Martial Arts in the Bronx and was told that I signed a one year agreement and that there was nothing that he could do about it. I will definitely file a lawsuit if this matter is not resolved.

Please BEWARE of the many Martial Arts Studios out there and their UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES AND MISLEADING SALES TACTICS. The costs associated with advancing in belt rank are unexpected and extremely high along with the unjustifiably high cost in equipment. Consequently, as the months go by and your child advances in belt rank, there are costly and unexpected fees that the school mandates that each student MUST pay. This is a well structured scam because the 'school' knows that if these costs were mentioned at the outset during my meeting with the program director in early March, then I would NOT have enrolled my son in classes at Ultimate Studio Martial Arts. It's an utter disgrace for incompetent and dishonest individuals to take a well respected sport such as Martial Arts and turn it into a first-rate scam operation. This cannot continue and I would request that everyone please continue reporting your local Martial Arts schools for violations, unfair business practices, misleading sales tactics and any other scam-related issues. As consumers we have rights, so please contact these agencies to file your complaints: Federal Trade Commission (FTC)-Bureau of Consumer Protection at: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm (click on File a Complaint): The Better Business Bureau at: www.bbb.org: Your State's Attorney General and, if necessary, take them to court. Also, we must continue using forums, such as, ripoffreport.com and other 'rip-off' reporting websites.

Review about: Martial Arts.

Comments

Anonymous
#40501

I was also suckered into a long term contract with a karate school. They rushed me through the paperwork and it' causing a financial hardship. These places are disgraceful for not informing people of this fact.

Anonymous
#40500

I was also suckered into a long term contract with a karate school. They rushed me through the paperwork and it' causing a financial hardship. These places are disgraceful for not informing people of this fact.

Anonymous
Stirling, New Jersey, United States #22105

IT IS SHOCKING TO READ THE GARBAGE THAT YOU WROTE ON THIS WONDERFUL SCHOOL.WHO, AS AN ADULT GOES AROUNFD FURNISHING SOMETHING SO PRIVATE AS IS A SOCIAL SECURITY # AND THEN WANTS TO WHINE LIKE A FOOL FOR MAKING WHAT YOU REFER TO AS AN ERROR.

DID YOU GET INTO AN APARTMENT WITHOUT A LANDLORD FIRST RESERCHING TO SEE IF YOU WERE A FRAUD? DO YOU GET SERVICES FROM *** EDISON WIITHOUT YOU FURNISHING SUCH INFORMATION. WHY IF YOU FELT UNCOMFORTABLE WOULD YOU JUST GIVE UP YOUR INFO OF WHERE YOU RESIDE AND YOUR NAME AND THE LIKES IF YOU FELT UNEASY IN RESPECTS TO AN ENROLLEMENT. YOU ARE BY FAR AN IGNORANT CONSUMER ONE WHO MAKE A FUSS ABOUT ENROLLMENT PROCEDURES AND THEN GOES TO THESE TYPES OF EMAIL SITES TO DAMAGE A GOOD SCHOOL WITH GREAT INTENTIONS.

YOU HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN WHINE ON DIFFERENT SITES ABOUT YOUR SOB STORY . YOU SHOULD INSTEAD INVEST IN A PROGRAM THAT GIVES YOU EVERYTHING FOR FREE. IF THAT EVEN EXIST.

I HOPE THAT ALL OF THE SCHOOLS WHOM YOU HAVE TRIED TO HARM GET TOGETHER AND SUE YOU FOR DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER.

CHARACTER WHAT YOU HAVE NONE OF.SHAME ON YOU.

Anonymous
Johnsonville, South Carolina, United States #21599

This time around, I would like to reiterate the complaints that I have against Ultimate Studio Martial Arts in a more explicit manner, as the rebuttals and comments do not seem to address my issues. Please understand my complaint and that I have nothing against the way in which students are instructed nor do I have a complaint about any particular programs or activities. In fact, Ultimate Studio is very creative when it comes to providing activities for your children and, in the beginning, I was quite impressed with their organization. But, again, this is not what I am addressing. I am addressing the financial practices of Ultimate Studio. You must understand both aspects, instructional and financial, in order to understand what is going on. Also, please keep in mind that I am writing this complaint to inform others of the business practices conducted by Ultimate Studio when procuring new students and also to expose Ultimate Studio’s unprofessional policies. My aim is to reveal these deceptive policies so that others may not fall victim to such crude schemes both nationwide and locally. I will present the facts from my experience dealing with this company. Let me begin by first addressing the fact that when I first signed my child up, the TOTAL AMOUNT due on the “Agreement” was left blank. (Here is how it appears: Total Sales Price $__________) I am confident that if the total amount of the contract (which was $154...

All right, let me now address the HIDDEN FEES. I will list the fees below. Please keep in mind that these fees were NOT discussed or presented during my meeting with the Program Director when first joining, and this is were the deception lies. Also, I received over thirty (30) fliers during my child’s three month involvement with Ultimate Studio and I can assure you that the majority of these fliers are not readily available to parents nor are they prominently displayed in the studio. In fact, those fliers outlining unexpected fees are not given to the parents until that specific event draws near. So how am I supposed to anticipate several hundred dollars in fees when first signing up if nothing is ever mentioned of them and Ultimate Studio keeps them secret until that event presents itself. This is completely unprofessional. As a newbie to the deceptive practices of Ultimate Studio, I did not anticipate any fees except, of course, the initial $219 registration and month-to-month tuition fees thereafter. How could Ultimate Studio expect a parent to anticipate any fees other than tuition fees, especially if they are new to the sport and its customs? If miscellaneous or mandatory school fees are not mentioned at the outset, then how can a school expect parents or adults to make informed decisions about whether they want to sign up? This would be similar to staying in a hotel room and paying a flat fee of, let’s say, $219 a night. But suddenly, as the day goes by, you receive a phone call that you will now be charged $1.00 for each gallon of water you use and the next day you are told that you will be charged $4.00 for every kilowatt-hour of energy used and so on. If you do not have the common sense to realize that this hotel’s practices are unfair and unprofessional, then you deserve to be taken for a ride. So here are the HIDDEN fees:

1) $50 belt test fee (this fee gradually increases based on your child‘s belt rank)

2) $370 mandatory sparring equipment (I understand sparring is dangerous, but this “mandatory fee” was not discussed and I was not aware that students MUST spar. I have no problem with the price or quality of the equipment, I am stating that this fee should have been discussed when signing up.)

3) $50 late payment fee (this fee is more harsh than credit card companies.)

4) $20 Competitor Fee (a mandatory fee for your child to participate in Intramural School Tournaments.)

5) $5 Spectator Fee (this is charged to those loving parents and relatives who want to watch their child participate in Intramural School Tournaments.)

These are the “HIDDEN” fees that I came across during my child’s involvement with Ultimate Studio and although they may be NECESSARY to pay rent and maintain the business, I am simply stating that these fees should be discussed when first registering. I am sure that there are more, and I am confident that the owner and the other “insiders” know exactly what I’m talking about and why I am so passionately addressing these issues. I would advise Ultimate Studio to take a look at the “BUSINESS” portion of the company and reform its practices and policies. At least, provide the parents with enough information at the outset so that they may make informed decisions about if they can afford to sign up their children.

The other issue that I would like to address is the complete deception regarding the “Contract” or “Agreement” itself. Now, having contacted several companies, and doing thorough research, I discovered that this document, the one you MUST sign, is a financial instrument or a loan. Here is how it works. I sign the document stating that I want to sign up for a year and so this is my commitment and it is supposedly binding. This loan, obtained by Ultimate Studio is then sold to a third party, the same way your mortgage may be sold by the bank to third parties. But keep in mind that you were never told that you signed a loan agreement and this is completely illegal. So, Ultimate Studio is given a certain amount of money up front based on the total sale price of the contract. This is why it is NOT so easy to cancel or end your child’s involvement with Ultimate Studio or other martial arts schools. Having attempted to cancel my child’s involvement with Ultimate Studio, I was ignored and told that the owner must speak to a third party. So I wondered what third party is the owner referring to because I was never told that a third party was involved. Soon, after doing some research, I discovered that the third party is the finance company that fronts money to the school based on the sale of these loan agreements. This is entirely illegal. Unbeknownst to me, I signed a loan for Ultimate Studio in the amount of $1548. Once you try to cancel, you will be ignored and forgotten.

Again, I have no problem with the “instructional” aspects of Ultimate Studio. If Ultimate Studio has the wherewithal to reform its deceptive business practices, then I could honestly say that I would recommend going there. But, since there is so much deceit, I would recommend keeping yourself informed when signing up. I am not trying to ruin any martial arts schools either locally or nationally. I am trying to ruin the “business practices“. My case has merit and I am standing behind these facts 100%. If any parent reading this decides to join Ultimate Studio or any other martial arts school, then please DO NOT sign a CONTRACT. A martial arts school that is confident in its retention of students would not recommend parents to sign their child up for either 3 months, 6 months or even 1 year. Think of a university or college, do they encourage parents or students to sign a contract for a year or more in order to attend the school? NO! The student may leave the school whenever necessary and although they may be financially penalized, they will not be locked into a long term contract. Also, at a university or college parents and students are provided with the TOTAL AMOUNT of tuition for the year because most universities and colleges are confident in their programs and instruction and do not need to deceive parents or their students. And so, isn’t Ultimate Studio supposed to be a school? Why would they lock a child into instruction for such long periods of time? Why would they not provide the TOTAL AMOUNT of tuition on the contract?

Please, read the above complaint carefully. It has been one month since I first ran into problems with Ultimate Studio and the issue has yet to be resolved. I tried many times to resolve this issue thinking that the owner was a reasonable business person. I would like to end this on a positive note, so I would request that Ultimate Studio reform its business practices, and if it can do that, then I wish you much success in the area. I hope that I will be the last person to confront these issues. And for those who are defending Ultimate Studio (Insiders, students, etc.) you have not been through what I went through, so your remarks are irrelevant and do not even address my issues. By the way, I am serving as an example of standing up for my rights as a consumer and I hope that others will do the same. Good luck to those venturing into the sport of martial arts!

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Anonymous
Philo, Illinois, United States #20927

Firstly, the "instructor" of the school (as he is so rudely referred to in this person's complaint) is also the owner, who is a long-time, well-known and well-respected competitor in the martial arts forum. He has won many coveted awards in tournament, both in the US and overseas.

After 4 years of business and over 100 students (both adults and children enrolled), this is the first complaint anyone has heard. This poster is slamming these people all over the place. This school treats everyone with the utmost respect and is totally on the up-and-up. This guy/gal believes that virtually every martial arts school has "hidden fees." Wake up...if you had decided your kid should learn to play the flute, would the replacement reeds, even the flute itself, be a "hidden fee" also??? All sports and hobbies mean bearing ongoing costs for equipment and upgrades.

All costs are disclosed and discussed quite openly, the equipment and uniform fees are within reason for the their quality (my kid's sparring gear and uniforms are 1-1/2 years old and still going strong!), and the school offers many no-charge extras that other schools do not - "training in the park" days where the entire school participates in a class and parents even get in on the act, and "parent workout day" where parents can take a class side-by-side with their child. There are pay events that are NOT mandatory though they are encouraged...trips to amusement parks, participation in tournaments,...

The ones who really got shorted are this guy's kid and Sahbumnim. Thank you, Sahbumnim, for helping me teach my son respect, discipline and what it means to be a man.

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