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Chris T., JD
Chris T., JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3622
Experience:  Experienced in both state and federal court.
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I signed a contract with an ATA (American Tae-kwon-do Association)

Customer Question

I signed a contract with an ATA (American Tae-kwon-do Association) business for my son. This is not a gym, but a facility located within a shopping center. We somewhat unwittingly signed a 3 year contract without thinking it through. This is partly b/c we had moved from another state which had a far superior ATA program and wanted to continue with the program in our new location (NC). We have 1 year left on the contract. Over time we have realized that the instruction here is not what we expected and are thus unhappy with the service. In the contract it only says we can get out of it if we move further than 8 miles or basically have a medical reason. Is there any way to get out of this contract because we are just not happy with the instructor, the attention each student in class gets and the fact that the school only seems interested in pushing kids to the next belt level so that they can collect more belt testing fees.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Chris T., JD replied 1 year ago.

TexLawyer :

Good morning. I'llbe assisting you with your question.

TexLawyer :

Do you, by any chance, have a copy of the contract on your computer?

Customer:

I do at home. I could probably have my wife copy it and send it to me as an attachment

Customer:

its fairly basic - only a few paragraphs

TexLawyer :

OK. It may be helpful.

Customer:

ok, I tried to call my wife now, but she isn't available so might be some delay in getting it. I just found this site today and didn't realize I could get possibly a quick answer for this. :)

TexLawyer :

OK. Basically, this is a contract dispute, so interperting the contract is important.

TexLawyer :

However, if you can't get your hands on it in a digital form, there are a few contract principles that may apply.

TexLawyer :

Were any misrepresentations made to you when you signed it?

TexLawyer :

Also, does the contract discuss a damages or penalties if the contract is broken?

Customer:

I have the contract. one second and I will attach it

TexLawyer :

Great.

Customer:

Full Size Image

TexLawyer :

Got it. Let me take a look

TexLawyer :

I don't know if you saw my question above, but were any misrepresentations made to you when you signed up? Has anything material about the academy changed since you started?

Customer:

Not that I can really recall. Basically its been the same routine since we started.

TexLawyer :

How long do you have left on the contract?

Customer:

Till June 2014

TexLawyer :

OK. Let me look at a few things.

Customer:

basically when we signed up there wasn't much negotiation involved or discussion of time periods and at the end of the discussion they gave us this contract to sign and they say to us probably non-challantly its for 3 years.

TexLawyer :

I've looked at the contract and reviewed a few things pertaining to martial arts and related contracts. The bad news first:

TexLawyer :

The contract is legally sound. What that means for you is that you are stuck with it. However, that does not mean that all hope is lost.

Customer:

ok

TexLawyer :

If you ceased payments, ATA would have a few options, none of which are particularly attractive. They could report you to a bill collector, who will take up to 40% of what they are able to recover from you, or they could sue you for breach of contract in small claims court.

TexLawyer :

Either way, they will have to lay out some money to get money back from you, and all to get back about $1500.

Customer:

right

TexLawyer :

Clearly, it would be in their best financial interest to reach a negoiated settlement with you to legally release you from your contract. If they were to really fight this with you, ultimately nobody wins.

Customer:

ok, maybe I'll go back to them, explain that we aren't happy with the service and try to negotiate a amount to get out of the contract

TexLawyer :

So, you could approach them seeking a release. First, just ask for a straight up release, no money exchanged and see what they say. If they say no, offer to pay a couple of months' fee to terminate.

Customer:

ok.

TexLawyer :

At some point (and I can't say excatly what that point is for them), it becomes worth it to just take the money and release you.

Customer:

ok. I have the ability to send out my opinion of this place to a few thousand people. Should I try mentioning that to them? Tell them I am not happy with their program and that I could let my opinion be known to a few thousand coworkers who also have kids who might be interested in signing up?

TexLawyer :

Yes, you can do that. Just giving your opinion about a business is protected speech, and they could not sue you for that (as opposed to a situation where you made false statements of fact about them, in which they could potentially sue for slander). In fact, that is probably very good leverage. Also, keep in mind that you can give them negative reviews on various social media platforms and websites, like Yelp and such.

Customer:

ok

Customer:

I'll keep that in mind

TexLawyer :

Can I do anything else for you?

Customer:

I should have known better not to sign a contract like this. Not usually that stupid, but got blindsided this time. Guess I will chalk it up as a costly learning experience. I thank you for your help on this. I think that covers everything that I need. Will I get a copy of this chat trascript?

TexLawyer :

It will always be available through your profile.

Customer:

ok

Customer:

thank you

TexLawyer :

Glad to help. If there isn't anything else I can do for you, please remember to "rate" my answer. Good luck!

Customer:

ok, I will now. Thanks

Chris T., JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3622
Experience: Experienced in both state and federal court.
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