Ultimate Studio Martial Arts / Unfair business practices
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 enrol 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 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, /link removed/ and other 'rip-off' reporting websites.