How to Protect Yourself: Dance Studios
The Florida Attorney General's Office
Dance studios offer you entertainment and excitement via dance lessons. However, dance lessons may become much more expensive than you ever planned for. Before you sign a dance studio contract, consider the following:
Research the company
Check to make sure that the business exhibits a current license, registration or letter of exemption from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS). The DACS can be reached at 850-488-2221 or toll-free at 800-435-7352. Find out if the company is "accredited" or "approved" by any state or federal agencies as well as how long it has been in business, and research its past successes and failures. Ask for references. Call the Attorney General’s Office, the local Better Business Bureau, the DACS and the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether any complaints or lawsuits are pending against the business. For an out-of-state company, you may wish to call the appropriate agencies and authorities in the state where the company maintains its headquarters.
Ask about your rights
A dance studio contract is a contract for future consumer services when the contract includes a provision for services to be rendered on a continuing basis in the future. As such, make sure your contract clearly and conspicuously advises you of certain rights – your "cooling off" period, cancellation and refund rights and studio bond requirements, pursuant to Florida Administrative Code and Florida's "Dance Studio Act," 501.143, Florida Statutes (1999).
Do not sign a contract immediately
Take time to think about it and talk it over with a family member, a friend or an attorney. Also, insist the contract clearly state in writing all promises made to you; the cost per hour of the lessons; the overall contract cost; your cancellation and refund rights; and any prepayment protections. Beware of signing a long-term contract which requires you to prepay thousands of dollars for lessons you may not be able to complete. Will your money be refunded should the business suddenly close or go bankrupt? You may wish to pay in advance for only a certain number of lessons before entering into a long-term agreement. Further, do not sign additional contracts before the current one expires. These overlapping contracts may obligate you to purchase additional lessons that extend beyond your interest, physical fitness, or even your life expectancy.
Be wary of prohibited sales techniques
A dance studio may not do any of the following in an attempt to induce you to purchase dance lessons: request you sign an incomplete or uncompleted contract; misrepresent to you the cost of the services or the contract; use "relay salesmanship" or consecutive sales talks by more than one representative in a single day; use high-pressure sales tactics; or falsely represent that certain dance lessons will enable you to achieve a given standard of dancing proficiency.