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Tuition Painters / The best effort out of unskilled, untrained, well-meaning kids!

1 United States Review updated:

Before You Call Tuition Painters

For those of you either anticipating using Tuition Painters or joining Tuition Painters as employees, please read the following article before making your decision.

You need to make an informed decision.

Tuition Painters, Inc. (www.TuitionPainters.com) is a legitimate business founded in North Carolina with their current headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. Their name sums up their business plan nicely, to hire college age kids to operate their own painting contractor business. To that end, they invest resources recruiting, interviewing and training their managers about the business and providing infrastructure such as payroll services, marketing material, etc. For this opportunity, the company collects 35 to 40% of the gross receipts.

A quick visit to their website will give you an overview of their mission. Their website is heavily weighted to the business opportunity afforded the managers. Once you get past the business and management information you will find it difficult to address the performance requirements and compensation of the actual workers (the “bees” for this article).

We have had practical experience with two of our bees working for Tuition Painters; Amanda, our 19 year old VPI student and Jimmy our 17 year old soon-to-be VPI student.

Our experience has been less than satisfactory.

Our bees did the work they were asked to do to the best of their ability. They never received any training from Tuition Painters, never missed a scheduled day of work, never refused to do the work and never received a reprimand for their quantity or quality of work. They have also never been paid the $10/hr. they were promised when hired nor have all of their hours been acknowledged by the company.

According to Paul, one of the founders of Tuition Painters, there are numerous explanations for the discrepancies.

Most of the explanations fall back on a piece-work agreement the bees are required to sign before becoming employees. The bottom line is that if anything goes wrong with a job, it is the bees that suffer.

If the job is underbid, the bees pay is unilaterally cut to the minimum wage. Paul Flick says that the crews are told of the number of hours that a job is expected to be completed, however, the bees aren’t allowed to refuse jobs or they risk being fired. The bees don’t have the experience to determine whether the estimate is realistic. The bees don’t have the training to handle many of the situations that arise. Bee managers would find it impossible to function as managers if the bees either questioned their assignments, the make up of the work crews, or the estimates on every job. Bees simply work.

If the job isn’t completed by the work crew (e.g. the allotted hours are exhausted before the work is complete and the crew stops work, the crew is reassigned to other jobs prior to completion, quitting) there may be no compensation at all. If the job isn’t completed to the satisfaction of the client or collection is an issue, there may be no compensation.

The details of our direct experience with Tuition Painters are very simple.

Jimmy worked for Tuition Painters for 35 hours. All of his jobs were completed under budget and to the satisfaction of the clients to the best of our knowledge. His pay was unilaterally cut from $10/hr. to $5.15/hr. for his acknowledged hours (15.5 hours). Although the division manager acknowledged this was a mistake in August, 2006 and that he would correct it, Jimmy has yet to receive his full compensation as of the end of November. The same manager was contacted recently about the situation. His response was to wonder why he was being called about issues “back last summer”.

Amanda worked for Tuition Painters for 80.5 hours. Her situation was slightly more complicated. Misestimated jobs, safety problems (such as working around power lines without training), and quality issues (working with eggshell paint without training) plagued her experience. All of these issues were brought to the attention of the same division manager with no response. This led to wasted hours, unhappy clients, and of course the unilateral pay cut.

After the bees figured out that they were wasting their time, working themselves to death for minimum wage, they made every effort to complete their assignments and terminate the relationship with Tuition Painters without too many loose ends. About the same time, their direct manager was prohibited access to the payroll database so their final hours could not be recorded which accounts for the discrepancy in “acknowledged hours”.

An unscrupulous company could easily build a nice painting business by promising the bees $10/hr. and effectively paying minimum wage rather than manage the business properly.

When you are making the decision to hire Tuition Painters, know that you are usually getting the best effort out of unskilled, untrained, well-meaning kids. When you are thinking of trying painting for the summer (becoming a “bee” for Tuition Painters) be aware that your pay is tied to circumstances beyond your control.

Amanda and Jimmy have taken a philosophical view of their experience with Tuition Painters, chalking it up to “life lessons not to be repeated”. Although they have moved on, I feel that it is blatantly unfair to take advantage of the naive. The general population needs to be warned of this type of hiring practice and make an informed decision. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many places publishing this type of information. I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and have sent a letter to the Virginia State Corporation Commission. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with your own “Tuition Painter” story by email at jim.mouser@lucketts.net, mouser_jim@yahoo.com, or call me (Jim Mouser, the Dad) directly at [protected]. A web site is under construction which may prove effective in getting the word out.

Paul of Tuition Painters was sent the above article in November 2006 and invited to comment. His final correspondence with me was “They have been paid what they were owed”. Update: I have a letter from their attorneys stating they "intend to sue" if the above article is published, however, they have not stated the basis for their suit. The above article is a factual account of our experience with Tuition Painters.

Ji
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Comments

  • Va
      9th of Feb, 2007
    0 Votes

    This is in regards to another poster. My name is John from PA. My son worked for Tuition Painters in PA as a painter. He is a very hard worker and made good money with the company. He really enjoyed working for his boss. He was an experienced painter to start, but the company required him to go through a Sherwin Williams paint training program anyways. He knew a lot of the info already, but said he picked up a few things. My nephew will be working for them this summer. My advice is the following... if your child is a hard worker, then he can make a very nice amount of money over the summer with Tuition Painters.

  • Al
      25th of May, 2007
    0 Votes

    Zip code 235456. Used them late last year. Paint is already peeling and must be reworked. No response from my last contact or area office. The left a mess after one of them dumped paint at the interior of the garage door. They made no effort to clean up until I complained the next day. Then they did not pick up the now ruined mat. Only wiped it. I suggest never using them, due to an obvious lack of supervision.

  • Al
      11th of Sep, 2007
    0 Votes

    I worked for Tuition Painters as a student this past summer and I highly regret it. When hired, I was promised at least $8, benefits, and 40 hours per week. I was told I had to help to marketing (handing out fliers around neighborhoods) and would be paid for that as well. After a few weeks of marketing, I found out I would only be paid for signatures I got from households to get a free estimate. Before the actual painting at our first clients home, my training consisted of painting the garage door at my supervisors home with other employees. I figured painting was easy enough and I would get experience anyway. So, I began working and worked for about two weeks. After this time period, my supervisor informed me that Tuition Painters would not allow me to work with two other employees until they got a few more hours of experience. So I waited a few days and then about a week until I was able to reach my supervisor. He told me that Tuition Painters in Delaware was shutting down and all employees were losing their jobs. In the end, my supervisor had spent about $4,000 and all of his time and the company all of a sudden just disappeared. On top of that, he was very weary to tell me that Tuition Painters also refused to pay me for the work I had done and there was nothing he could do about it! So, after months of marketing and two weeks of hard labor, I had absolutely $0 from Tuition Painters. They won't even return phonecalls! This is a definite scam and they should be sued!

  • Mi
      28th of Sep, 2007
    0 Votes

    Do not use or work for tuition painters! I worked for them last summer for about 30 hours a week. I was told I would be paid $10/ hour, which I was excited about. Unfortunately, my pay ended up being $6/hour, and after a number of complaints to my boss and others higher up in the company, nothing happened. I spoke with the regional manager who informed me everything would get sorted out, and it never did. I received my final paycheck from them last week, and it bounced, costing me $10. I've made many attempts to try to reach them and get this sorted out, but they have an answering service which weeds out calls like mine and they never return the calls. Don't use tuition painters, they exploit college students who have good intentions, as well as bills to pay.

  • An
      6th of Nov, 2007
    0 Votes

    I have worked for Tuition Painters. Some where in my contract I'm sure it says that I'm not allowed to speak out and reveal the true Tuition Painters. However, I don't want others to go through what I have gone through. Just take my advice, don't join Tuition Painters, especially if you're a hard worker like me. If you're a hard worker you don't need Tuition Painters to teach you how to run your business because from experience, they really don't help you run it and they sure love to take and hold the money you send them in the mail. If you want to run your own business then do it. Gain skills in the field you love and then go for it, there's nothing to stop you. If you still think you may want to join TP, then click on the link to send me an e-mail. Don't let them lie to you.

  • An
      6th of Nov, 2007
    0 Votes

    I would also like anyone who has been wronged by Tuition Painters to send me an e-mail so that I can start making a list.

    Thanks.

  • Vi
      12th of Nov, 2007
    0 Votes

    My son worked for TP over the summer as a District Supervisor. This has been a horrible experience. He started working in April and ended in August when he went back to school. At least the painters received some sort of paycheck. My son has yet to receive any money from Tuition Painters. We have been e-mailing Paul Flick. On one of his e-mails back to me he stated that "Nick ran the most disorganized business I have every seen in my 11 year history. You should of instilled a work ethic in him! It seems you are now looking for a hand out for your son who admitted not giving it a solid effort." I have continued to e-mail the company but we are no longer receiving responses to any e-mail, nor do they answer phone calls.

    DO NOT WORK FOR TUITION PAINTERS! They prey on young college kids who have good intentions. Their hiring practice is deceptive and they are setting you up for disappointment and failure.

  • Br
      15th of Nov, 2007
    0 Votes

    Tuition Painters is definitely a scam. I worked as a manager and a painter all summer. I was paid for painting, but never saw a dime from booking jobs, cold calling door to door, or following up with customers. Paul Flick is a piece of ###.

  • Ki
      15th of Nov, 2007
    0 Votes

    The painters receive no formal training from Tuition Painters. Myself, as well as all of my recruits had no experience with painting, power washing, or glazing windows- yet we did this all summer. We got better as time passed, but there were a lot of customers that just weren't happy with our results. Because of the constant struggle to keep under the ridiculous budget, we had to half ### our work. Tuition Painters is a ripoff to both the customers, and the students.

  • Ch
      1st of Mar, 2008
    0 Votes

    Tution Painters, LLC. had a judgement ruled against them in the amount of $8,046 in unpaid wages to a former employee on February 11, 2008 in the Fairfax County General District Court. Case No. GV07029250-00. No payment has been remitted. Paul Flick, President of Tuition Painters, has indicated he has chosen to disobey the court’s order and not pay - seemingly showing no remorse for failing to pay wages to an employee and clearly no regard for the rule of law. Just a little FYI…

  • Na
      10th of Mar, 2008
    0 Votes

    I worked for Tuition Painters as a District Supervisor in the summer of 2006. And while I don't consider Paul Flick to necessarily be a snake (ok, maybe he is), I have big problems with the business model. The calculations we were trained to make set aside less than 30% of the budget for worker's wages (and taxes on top of that), and since our brand, "Tuition Painters," naturally registers as a budget option to professional painters, we had to low-ball our estimates to get jobs. The result was that, even if my guys got the jobs done under the number of budgeted hours, they still got horribly ripped off on their wages. In fact, when we did the calculations, we found that my guys were getting paid about $4/hour, for BEATING THE BUDGET.

    Furthermore, Tuition Painters got around the California piece-work law by doctoring the books; specifically, California law requires that, even in a pay-for-performance system like the piece-work system used by Tuition Painters, workers must be paid at least the minimum wage per hour. But the way Tuition Painters gets around this is by only recording and paying "efficiency hours." If a paint job is budgeted for 40 man-hours, and the painters beat the budget and get it done in 30, their efficiency factor is 1.33. That efficiency factor is multiplied by the number of hours that each guy worked; so if Johnny worked 10 of those 40 hours, he'll get paid for 13.3 hours. The problem is, it goes vice versa as well--most of the time my guys simply couldn't beat the budget because we had low-balled the number to get the job. And, to cover their butts, Tuition Painters ONLY KEEPS RECORD OF EFFICIENCY HOURS. There is no record kept of real hours of work.

    I lost many good painters to this horrible system. I was forced to motivate my painters to work hard, all for a pathetic excuse of a paycheck at the end of the week. It made me feel horrible. And when I finally decided to cut my summer short and leave Tuition Painters, my wages and the wages of my remaining worker were withheld.

  • Ch
      3rd of Sep, 2008
    0 Votes

    I worked for TP, I worked hard and pretty quickly but the estimates were always off and seemed to be inappropriately calculated, as if the formulae were incorrect. I had no training period, I thought that was funny. Because of the discrepancy in estimation, I was often rushed and didn't do as good a job as I could have. As you might imagine, having gone over on time as I did, I didn't get paid more than minimum wage more than one or two paychecks. That said, one of my paychecks bounced.

    I think that if TP wants to calculate hours as one would for a pro, they damn well ought to pay at least $12/hr instead of the $7/hr they gave us when we signed up.

    I can only conclude from my experience that TP is a legal scam, worse than PCH, Cell contracts and Amway combined!

  • Be
      14th of Nov, 2008
    0 Votes

    My professor received an email describing a "Paid 2009 Summer Internship with Tuition Painters." I am really glad I found this article. Thanks to my newfound knowledge, I'm not even going to respond to the solicitation, my GUARANTEED pay will come from somewhere else for the summer. Thank you very much for the article and all the responses.

  • Ja
      24th of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    In May of 2008, I had a signed contract with Tuition Painters, along with a $100 deposit, to paint my living room. Two months later, another T.P. rep. shows up and says that they cannot do the job for the price quoted and they want more money. I refused and requested that my $100 deposit be returned. After numerous promises that my deposit would be refunded by several different T.P. reps, it never was and by January of 2009, I worked my way up the ladder of command to Paul Flick who also promised my refund by Feb., then by Mar., then by Apr. He finally stopped returning my calls and ignored my request for return of my deposit for work that was never performed. It is now July, 2009 and all I get when I call them at their Alexandria, VA location (1-866-729-4265) is a recorded phone company message that the number is no longer in use. If they have gone out of business, GOOD RIDDANCE!

  • Pr
      16th of Mar, 2010
    0 Votes

    It's not just the painters that are not being compensated for their work. Paul denied paying my full time painters their bonus's at the end of the summer. He still owes me close to $6, 000, he hasn't returned an email or phone call in the last 2 1/2 years. The company is shady and will do anything to make money off college students. He also didn't have a business license in the state I was working. After my painters and I worked for over 4 days on a $3500 job the company refused to pay until Paul showed them the business license. Paul said it was being processed but we never got it, nor the check from the company that we did the work. I didn't get paid for the job and neither did my painters. Previous employee.

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