Many of us sign up for fitness classes, dance lessons, art lessons and other activities. Those activities often ask you to pay in advance.
But students at one dance studio are learning the downside of prepaying. And it's a lesson that applies to all of us.
Paid in Advance Just Days Before Closing
Paul and Susan Hill say they've been duped.
They paid upfront for dance lessons.
But now the storefront studio is empty ... mail sits uncollected ...and a sign on the door says "closed for a week due to a family emergency."
But the Hills say it's been three weeks, and say no one is responding to calls or emails.
"We sent emails, we tried to leave phone messages, the voicemail box is totally full," Susan Hill said.
Like other students, they paid several thousand dollars upfront.
"We had paid initially about $1,000 for the first group of lessons, and an additional $2,000. So we are out about $2,500," she said.
The Federal Trade Commission has a caution before you prepay for any kind of lessons, activities or a gym.
How to Protect Yourself
The FTC says:
- Ask about refunds, if you are injured or move away.
- If you have to prepay, try to pay month to month, not for a full year.
- Understand that if they file bankruptcy, you will lose any money you paid.
- And check the club's record with the Better Business Bureau.
The Hills are angry they were asked to prepay just days before the doors were locked. "The fact they asked us for money on a Friday and closed on a Monday is very frustrating," they said.
But this is an important lesson to anyone considering dance or fitness lessons, art lessons, horseback riding....or any activity where you are asked to make a large payment in advance.
That way you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
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