Monday, May 14, 2012

A Year With Florida Genbu-Kai Karate

It's not often that I consider using my blog as a place to actually discredit a local business. Like, if I get bad service at a restaurant I'm not going to run here and let y'all know about it or if someone does bad plumbing work I'm not going to shout it from the rooftops. But when someone tries to bully me or my children, I think it's time to use the blog.

THE BEGINNING

Last May, The Man and I decided to enroll the boys in a karate school. We figured it would be good discipline and exercise for the boys. The Man had trained his whole childhood and earned the rank of black belt when he was a teenager. Though he hasn't formally trained in years, he continues to practice on his own and I truly believe that karate has made him a stronger, more disciplined and focused adult.

Earlier that year I had taken the kids to the movies and was given a business card for Florida Genbu-Kai Karate. At the time the school was located in Royal Palm Beach, which was pretty close to us out here in the boondocks. So we went and checked the school out.

Sensei Keith Moore gave our boys a trial lesson and the boys really enjoyed it so I decided to sign them up.

SIGNING THE CONTRACT

Now, my spidey sense was tingling when I was presented with a year long contract for the boys. It seemed kind of irrational to sign a year long contract committing a 7 year old and an 11 year old to any activity for an entire year. But the boys were so excited and I really felt good about Florida Genbu-Kai, so I went ahead and did it.  The school would have our credit card on file and take tuition out at the beginning of each month. I begrudgingly signed.

That was my first mistake.

Now, when we signed the contract I was told that after the boys passed their yellow belt test, there would be an additional class during the week for sparring practice, but that there would be no extra charge for additional classes. 


THE FIRST HITCH IN THE ROAD

Oddly enough when the boys took and passed their test, Sensei Keith Moore and his wife, Karin, began harassing me to pay an increased tuition rate. When I refused, I was given the option to call a list of potential customers and try to book appointments for the dojo. In the spirit of helping out the dojo, I agreed to call this list. The list I was given was over 6 months old and the people on it often didn't remember adding their name to whatever fishbowl or ballot box the school had collected them in. I had terrible results calling them and only managed to book one appointment.


There we were, committed to the school for a year. There were times it was tough to keep it up, honestly. Goober had to give up football for the season because karate conflicted with practice times, but he truly loved going. Bug had practically no time after school before karate and complained constantly about having to go three days a week. It was a lot of dropping everything we were doing to rush to karate, a lot of driving, a lot of sitting around waiting for the boys to be done, and a few minor injuries.

THE SPAM

My email inbox began to get regular emails from Sensei Keith Moore, most of them not related to karate at all - but silly forwards and chain emails. All emails were sent to all of the dojo customers with all email addresses clearly apparent to all readers. It irked me, but we had made a commitment and we were following through. I didn't want to bring up these "petty" little things as complaints because I started to fear that Sensei Keith Moore and his wife Karin might treat the boys differently if their mother were labeled a "problem-parent"... so I kept my mouth shut and carried on.

THE FUNDRAISING

My spidey sense started tingling again when I was presented with a fundraising pamphlet that asked the boys to sell Domino's Pizza (or Papa Johns? I don't remember) to their friends and family. This fundraiser was presented to us on the very first day of the new school year. You know the day... when you're overwhelmed with new routines and paperwork and school uniforms and drop off circles. Not a great time to ask a mom to sell pizzas to help supplement their FOR PROFIT business that I was currently contracted to support.

Later on, just before Christmas, I was handed an envelope containing 20 raffle tickets with a note asking the boys to sell them for a dollar a piece for a 50/50 raffle splitting the prize with the school. In other words, the school was asking my boys to participate in a gambling effort so Sensei Moore could have more money for Christmas.

Now, I understand fundraising for non-profit organizations. And I can even understand if Florida  Genbu-Kai  had sent a letter home stating that more funds were needed for new equipment or maybe scholarships for underprivileged kids. Something. But to just send home raffle tickets with no explanation of what the money is to be used for is not acceptable. Especially since the parents can only presume that the money is just going directly into the owner's pocket. We did not sell any tickets.

THE MOVE

So came the winter holiday. Florida  Genbu-Kai  was closed for a few weeks due to the holidays and because they were moving from Royal Palm Beach into a new location in Wellington. We were told that we would receive a credit on our tuition for February to make up for the lost time.

Before we could even address the issue of the dojo being closed for the better part of a month, I received an email from Sensei Keith Moore in the second week of January. This email was sent to every customer of the dojo - just as they all had been. This email shocked me. I'll just post it here in all its glory.


Yeah. Now, even though we hadn't been with the school for a year at that point I was horrified that Sensei Keith Moore would publicly admonish his students and their families like that. Was Florida  Genbu-Kai  really the kind of place I wanted to be sending my boys?

I had to sit on my hands not to respond to that email. Thank goodness the school was still closed at the time because it was several days later before I actually had to face Sensei Keith Moore and I had calmed down a bit at the time. He still had my boys in a contract for the next 4 months and I didn't want to make waves.

When February came, our tuition was charged with no discount. Again, I didn't say anything. I'm sure it would have really hurt the school to have to discount tuition for every member and so I just kept my mouth shut.

THE SAD, SAD ENDING

So finally, we were nearing April's end and the subject of  renewing the contract came up. After such a year with the dojo, The Man and I had decided we would not renew the contract, but would be fine with Florida  Genbu-Kai  taking payments month to month for the boys to continue with the school. This was solely because Goober really loved the school and Bug had set a goal to get to a purple belt for himself. We didn't want to keep the boys from reaching their goals and we knew they were happy at the school.

So I approached Sensei Keith Moore to try to compromise with him on signing a year long contract again for the boys. I mean, our card was on file, they got their tuition at the beginning of the month, he had nothing to lose, right?

He stood tall next to me, arms crossed, and told me a story of another kid who refused to sign his contract. "I kicked the kid out" he said, seriously.

Well then.

Sensei Keith Moore refused to compromise. Month to month was not acceptable, a shorter term was not acceptable, nothing but that year contract would suffice for him.

On the last Friday of the month, when I picked the boys up from the school, Karin Moore, Sensei's wife was there. She stopped me and again attempted to get me to sign a contract. I let her know that we weren't comfortable with it and that Bug didn't want to continue for a full year anyhow. She turned directly to Bug and started making a deal with him about what he would do at home while Goober was at class.

I felt like I was in the twilight zone. I didn't know how many times I had to tell them that we were not signing a contract. Not for Bug, not for Goober, not for anyone.

We did not return to the school for the class the next day that would have been their last class. I, honestly, just wasn't willing to be pressured into signing a contract again.

Today I received a new email from Sensei Keith Moore.

I will edit this one slightly because it has some personal information in it, but you'll get the gist:


"I am presuming being we have not seen nor heard anything from you or the kids, that you have decided to remove them from our program. While I understand, and can respect, we were hoping that we could at least work something out in trying to keep Goober in the program. Please remember the opportunity we gave you in making phone calls to new prospective students. While your efforts were minimal at best, we stuck to our word, and never increased the boys tuition with the hopes you were trying to get in new students to help offset your children's tuition. Unfortunately, we never saw any results on your behalf. 

I know you asked us to continue charging your card, as we have in the past, at least for Goober's tuition, however this is not legal, and unfortunately we could not honor this request. 

It is a shame, and I hope you and your husband realize my disappointment in both of you for making this decision. Obviously, my time and efforts in helping the boys get to were they are at, was not considered. Maybe both Bug and Goober, can learn more from their dad who watches martial arts videos. 

Best of luck in your future endeavors!

Sensei"

I sit here with my mouth open in shock. Would you want to enroll your children at Florida  Genbu-Kai ? I will save you the response I sent back to him and the drivel he replied to that with. Suffice it to say, I said my piece and he weakly attempted to argue back. 

Oh wait, I will include one quote from his reply to my confronting him about his "shame on you" email in January:

"To yell at our dojo family for not taking the time to help us move, being I'm the Sensei, it is my right!"

All I can say is that our decision to NOT renew a contract with these people is one of the smartest ones we've made.








11 comments:

Anonymous said...[Reply to comment]

Good for you for not putting up with crap. Sensei and his wife sound manipulative at best, and shame on them for using kids to line their own pocket books.

the_happy_hausfrau said...[Reply to comment]

Un-freaking-real. You had me at "letting you call potential clients".

I'd report them to the BBB asap.

Anonymous said...[Reply to comment]

Wow. I started taking martial arts at the age of nine. Any true sensei would have compassion, discipline, and patience and teach the same. He should not have his own dojo and should not be teaching at all.

The Virtuous Girl said...[Reply to comment]

What a freakin whack-job! So ... he thinks that you should pay him, tele-market for him and then do his grunt work too. He doesn't seem to understand that you are his CUSTOMER, not his VOLUNTEER.

Sounds a bit like a weird cult-like environment run by am unstable narcissist. Glad you broke your ties and got the kids away from him.

Trish said...[Reply to comment]

You really do need to report him to the BBB, and publicly post his sladerous emails in ANY AND ALL Martial arts forums you can find. Word of mouth within that community is the best way to warn others of this abusive behavior. And I would have your credit card number changed immediately.

The FL Gamer said...[Reply to comment]

OMG and I glad I found you! I also had a terrible experience with Keith Moore! I am posting the following email I received from him after I also wanted to drop Karate (myself) but my son is still there and I am absolutely tormented about taking him out because he likes it! I don't tell him about the very odd, bi-polar and slanderous behaviour of Keith so he is ignorantly happy!!!

Here is the email:

Leah,

You are without a doubt. the most foul and worthless parent I have ever met! You continually blame my wife with the shortcomings of your tuition agreement with our school.

The truth is YOU have NO SPINE NOR BACKBONE! Period.

I contiplated responding to your BULLSHIT excuses and responses, but as I read what you wrote, I decided that all you wrote was BULLSHIT!

After yours and Bob's leaving the Dojo last Fall, we have never seen EITHER OF YOU since!

Your excuses and reasonins are no more than BULLSHIT at the least!

Please know that both yours and Bob's students training agreements have been sent to our collection agency for further processing.

Our agreements with you, Francis, Bob and the Mandlebaum's have been more than upfront and honest.

The ONLY problem is that NONE of you understand the term of committment!

Please know that your and Bob's accounts will be placed with out collection agency tomorrow.

Unfortunately, due to your lack of responsibility as an adult, and as a parent, Francis is NO longer welcome in our Dojo.


Thank you








Keith Moore

Japan Karate-Do Genbu-Kai of Florida
13889 Wellington Trace, Suite A-21
Wellington, FL 33414
(561) 804-1002


Beth Hubbard said...[Reply to comment]

WOW! Leah! I see Keith hasn't learned much in the past 4 years about treating people with respect. I'm sorry you've had to deal with his nasty side as well. I originally wrote this post because I just felt like people had to know how terrible he could be before signing a contract with him. A contract he will BULLY you into continuing if you try to not sign it for a new year.

My youngest really enjoyed karate there, too, so it was a tough decision to take him out. But I just couldn't keep going with Keith. I've heard good things about Villari's in Wellington if you'd like to continue somewhere else. :)

The FL Gamer said...[Reply to comment]

Hi Beth,

That was only one of many, many abusive emails from Keith Moore! Can you believe it? I have handed him his head on a platter (which you seem way too polite to do! :))) and he seems to like to fight back, but he fights back like Donald Trump!

Thank you so much for the tip about Villari's. I will investigate them. I am just so happy that I am not the only one who has had this terrifying and totally other worldly experience with Keith. My husband and I joined to be with our son at Karate but we both felt we could not keep up with the 3x per week and so we left. Karin agreed that we could do it on a trial basis and then reneged (of course!) They are both bullies and their methods are akin to fraud (and I told them that! Ha!). They are threatening us now with collection agencies trying to get us to pay for the time we weren't there. Basically they are a tag team in which Karin tells clients (verbally) that they are not locked in and they can "try it and see" and then you trust her and sign the contract. The contract ropes you in for 6 months (our did anyway) I am convinced that they fill in the time scale later because I don't remember seeing it when I signed. Scary people.

Are you currently at Villari's?

Big hug,
Leah Paterson

The FL Gamer said...[Reply to comment]

BY the way I am using my son's account here so if you see "Florida Gamer" or the name "Francis" that is not me, it is my son! Ha ha ha!!!

Beth Hubbard said...[Reply to comment]

No, we didn't sign up with Villari's but I have heard that other people have had great experiences with them. The boys decided they had enough on their plates.

I definitely got word from Karin that we could just try things out, too, and I felt so bamboozled the way it all played out! I'm so glad you found me, too. I hate to think how he's handling people there. We've run into him several times around town and he always gives us admonishing glances that we must ignore.

The boys have no idea what a disaster the whole thing was and I do feel badly that they didn't reach the goals they laid out for themselves. There were just so many red flags - like how he says things like "Don't act like Girl Scouts!" and "You're acting like a little girl!" to the kids (many of which are girls!!) during classes. I just couldn't keep my boys in there with this big bully.

Thanks for writing. I hope you find a wonderful dojo for your family where you can feel like you're welcomed and happy to be there. :)

Beth Hubbard said...[Reply to comment]

Leah! I also encourage you to write reviews on Yelp and Google. People really need to know what they're getting into before they sign a contract there.