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Do I need a lawyer? Can I get out of this contract?

Atlanta, GA |

My son is with me most of the year and I enrolled him in martial arts class and specifically asked the owner if I could take him out when he has to go to his father. The contract I signed says that is noncancellable until the expiration of the 1 year contract (excessive) and must be given 30 days. We are getting ready to go on vacation before he goes to his dad who lives in another state but the owner is now refusing to uphold his verbal agreement with me. What can I do?

The owner verbally agreed that I would be able to disenroll my son once I give 30 days notification. Now the owner is reverting back to the agreement and will not honor his word. I do not have anything in writing but I have emails and he has not denied telling me that I can disenroll my son with 30 days notice.

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

When there is a written contract that clearly states the terms (and may even expressly state that any amendments must be in writing), you really have little to stand on. Had you wanted another agreement, it should have been included in the written agreement and you should not have signed a contract that you knew did not include the terms you believed you agreed on.

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Posted

We have been going back and forth via email since I sent the cancellation and he has not denied telling me that I could take my son out when he is ready to go to his dad. In his email he asks me to come to his office tomorrow to discuss. How should I handle this?

Posted

Here in Ohio you might be able to get out of it under our law on Prepaid Entertainment Contracts, but with a quick look, I don't see anything like that in Georgia. Having said that, the internet is a very powerful tool. One thing you can promise the owner is that if he doesn't help you out and do what he agreed that you will tell everyone that you know, and more when you start a blog named "JimsMartialArtsisAwful".

Now, be careful, be able to prove what you say on the internet, and to your friends, as the owner could sue you for slander for maligning his company and calling him a liar. In the past, however, I have found people who have successfully used such threats. You could also tell him that you are going to report him to the Better Business Bureau or Angie's List.

Keep in mind that I am not a Georgia lawyer. Before you start a blog badmouthing him, I suggest that you discuss this with a local attorney who would practice in internet law. Check Avvo, there are lots of listings.

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Posted

Thank you for your insight Rick. Taking people's word, especially someone that bases their business on discipline is very frustrating. I am a very reasonable person and I also own a small business and I one thing my clients can say is that I am an honest person and I stick to my word...that is my bond. I did tell him that I would report this to BBB since he has not denied that he made a verbal agreement with me about my son participating in the class. Worst case scenario is that he will make me continue paying for the class even though my son wont be here to participate. The contract is non cancellable but it does not state that it is non transferrable. Would I be able to transfer the contract to someone else without cancelling it?

R. Russell O'Rourke

R. Russell O'Rourke

Posted

I like the way you think. That could work, although the transferee might not have a good experience, this is a personal services contract, it's not like you are buying cable. Is there a way to make this better? Does your son like the class? If so, what about just arranging a leave from the classes and extend the end date for the period he was absent? Getting the owner to agree, of course.

Asker

Posted

Just an update. I went to see the owner and reminded him of our verbal contract and expressed my displeasure with this dishonesty and he agreed to charge me a 30% fee for breaking the contract. I will be drafting a letter for this and ensuring he signs it so that we don't have any issues once i've paid him the 30% termination fee.

Posted

The agreement will most likely be upheld according to the written contract that you signed. It is difficult to determine whether the agreement is valid or invalid without reviewing the terms of the written agreement. You should consult an attorney to review this agreement to help you better understand your rights.

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Posted

Thank you for your response.

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