# They cheated me. What are my options

1. Aug 25, 2010

In June I signed up for a martial arts class using my Chase BP credit card. The employee who signed me up told me there is a $150 sign up fee and$100 monthly charge if I decide to come 3 times a week and the days could be any three days of a week. I agreed to that. $150/month if I decide to come more than 3 days. So I gave my credit card and he signed me up. The owner comes in few minutes later and takes my CVV number. I sign papers and off I go to practice. There was no paper work that was given to me. Fast forward to August, I look through my old statements and find the initial charge to be$485 instead of $250 and two monthly charges of$150 instead of $100/month. Yes, I acknowledge the error on my side not to have been looking at activities on my card. I called Chase this morning to discuss my options and they suggested I talk with the merchant first and if the overcharge is still not returned I should file a complaint and dispute these charges. I read the reviews about this particular martial arts club: the owner seems to be notorious for cheating money out of people. I wish I had read them before signing up. I just don't understand why he had charged me such an exorbitant price. If the owner decides to return the overcharges and puts me on$100/month plan I'd gladly stay in his club. I don't know if the relationship will be different. But if he insists on keeping the money that he basically stole from me, what are my options?

If I choose to dispute these charges, what are the correct steps to take?

Thanks

2. Aug 25, 2010

### turbo

Chase gave you the correct advice. Talk to the merchant, and if he does not credit you for the over-charge, dispute the overcharged amount with Chase. They will withhold the disputed amount from future payments to the vendor.

This happened to me with a music store that gave me a great deal on an amp, but insisted on charging me up-front. Then the owner gave me constant excuses about how Fender was responsible for the delay. I contacted the local Fender sales rep, and he let me know that the owner of that store had not even ordered the amp that I paid for. I disputed the charge AND contacted the state attorney general, only to find dozens of complaints lodged against the creep. He finally screwed up when he tried pulling that crap on eBay, elevating his crime to wire-fraud and attracting the attention of the FBI. He did some time in federal prison for that, but got nailed again when he got out and tried cheating someone else on a deal regarding a vintage car.

Last edited: Aug 25, 2010
3. Aug 25, 2010

### Stratosphere

You would hope he learned his lesson the first time.

4. Aug 25, 2010

### zomgwtf

One step at a time my friend, contact the merchant ASAP and bring a copy of your transaction history. Do you have any written evidence which draws out the verbal contract you spoke of earlier? I don't know how the law works where you live but I know some places verbal contracts are worth the same as written but that depends on state laws or something. Anyway if you have it written out then that'd be best no way the merchant can argue your dispute.

Keep us posted

5. Aug 25, 2010

### turbo

He had been cheating church groups for years, among others, and had cultivated an image as a devout Jesus freak since we were in college. I knew he was slimy but thought that I could trust him for one simple transaction. Nope!

6. Aug 25, 2010

### dlgoff

This could be a problem if it was a contract for a year or so.

I actually know a martial arts establishment that make their money from contracts of people that have left the group.

7. Aug 25, 2010

### cristo

Staff Emeritus
Why would you enter into a contract, sign a document, and not request a copy? This is your only proof of what payments you are going to be making.

8. Aug 25, 2010

### lisab

Staff Emeritus
Me too, it's a sad state of affairs, but there are bad apples around. Puts the whole industry in a bad light.

9. Aug 26, 2010

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Indeed, never sign anything without getting a copy of what was signed that shows your signature.

If you really want to get technical, all parties should have identical contracts with original signatures - everyone signs everyone else's. Note that many companies - like insurance companies - require that they have the original signatures, and not a copy.

Selfmade, don't expect your vendor to be cooperative. You have been duped.

I would bet that you signed a contract that allows what he did.

Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
10. Aug 26, 2010

### Chi Meson

The only institutions that I have allowed to do recurring charges to my card is the local YMCA, which we have been attending for 15 years, and the local public radio station. Any merchant who offered me a deal to allow regular charges, or in any way insisted that I allow recurring charges would raise a big red flag.

If a simple confrontation turns into a "confrontation," and he does not instantly make amends, then your best option is to walk away, call the Card company and stop all charges from this guy, and chalk it down to "lessons learned." People have had to choke on a lot worse than that.

If you had the cojones, you could stop all charges, and still keep attending until you have determined to have used the appropriate amount of services. Be sure to tell the other patrons what went on.

That is, if there are other patrons.

My guess is that his business is struggling, and he found it necessary to make repeated charges to pay his bills. Poor customer relations such as this, however, will guarantee his demise. You can either "feel sorry" for him, or watch with glee as he goes bankrupt, whichever makes you feel better.

There are probably too few victims in this to make a class-action worthwhile for a lawyer, and all rewards would go right into his pocket anyway. If your loss is less than one grand, I would just grit my teeth and walk.

Final edit:
After thinking for a few more minutes, I would do the following: call the card company and stop future charges; find the exact date that you are "paid up to" according to your signed agreement, and write it down; bring copies of your statements to showing charges that were made made; tell the owner that "mistakes were made" and you have been over charged according to the agreement. Let him know that you believe you are "paid up" to this date. If there are no problems, then sail-on, but do not reauthorize your card...ever again. Write checks or pay cash when necessary.

Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
11. Aug 26, 2010

### mugaliens

I absolutely hate the court system and lawsuits. Given this situation, however my advice is to SUE.

Chase Manhattant should have attorneys on retainer who deal with this situation quite often.

12. Aug 26, 2010

### mugaliens

Oh! You had dealings with him, as well! Who is this guy?

13. Aug 26, 2010

### mugaliens

Please understand that just because they teach or may be martial arts masters, they are NOT above the law. If they continue to think so as they're being arrested, they'll either quickly come around or they'll be subdued.

If they don't understand that, they'll be subdued permanently. Hollywood aside, no one dodges bullets.

14. Aug 26, 2010

### leroyjenkens

Some of these martial arts are so impractical that you're better off using your natural instinct in a fight than using the martial art.
I'd definitely bet on the bum swinging haymakers over the guy who thinks he's going to do some Steven Seagal movie wrist flip.

15. Aug 26, 2010

### cristo

Staff Emeritus
You advise him to sue someone for less than \$400, and when he has no proof of the agreement that he has signed up to?

16. Aug 26, 2010

### mugaliens

Lawsuits are often initiated to stop losses, not just recover losses.

17. Aug 26, 2010

### turbo

I won't tell you his name, but if you start looking for large federal fraud cases in New England, he'll pop up. The Maine AG's office had a huge file on the guy, but never took action because he offenses didn't ride (individually) to the level of grand theft. That changed when he started "selling" items on eBay that he didn't even have in stock - wire-fraud is a federal crime. IIR, he plea-bargained down to 6 counts.

18. Aug 26, 2010

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Just put a stop payment on the card. You don't need a lawsuit for that.

19. Aug 26, 2010

### dlgoff

The establishment that pissed me off for doing it to long time students that left,

were doing it by "direct pay" from their bank accounts. I guess the students could have had the bank to stop those payments.

20. Aug 26, 2010

### Loren Booda

Miyagi: Too much advantage. [Their] dojo.