Cosmetology School Complaint - Conveniently Forgetting to Remind You

Review by Geez Really on 2010-07-09
I can back you up on everything you just stated. I am going through a tuition battle with them, and they are supposedly suing me now. I left because I became pregnant and my work would not allow me to do both. As I needed money fast I decided to quit. EVERYONE there knew that I was leaving, yet nobody had the decency to remind me that I had to give written notice that I would not be attending.

You would think this would be obvious, as it is stated in the contract that you sign when you first start.

However, if one were to quit any other accredited college you can be positive that they would contact you in some kind of way to determine your status and verify the situation.

Cunningly, the school failed to mention this and a year later I get a call stating that I owe $8000!!! They were so "generous" to take it down to $4000. I settled for this as long as I had their word that I could pay them directly so that it would not be taken to collections. For 9 months I paid $100 to the school directly, seeing as that is all I could afford after having a baby, being on leave, then becoming a single mother.

Around 9 months I received a letter from a collection agency stating my account was delinquent and that I owed $8000!

Funny. I thought I had an agreement.

Apparently, the financial office did not follow through, let the balance go to collections, then never forwarded my payments to the collection agency. I finally got that situation figured out, so that the agency realized that I had been paying. Continuously, of course, afterwards I was bombarded with phone calls. I actually answered them and assured them that I would love to pay that off if I could and as soon as I could I would pay. Keep in mind I am still keeping up on my payments. On one occasion the collector threatened me that if I didn't pay at least $2000 they would have to take it up and consider me for further action. I apologized once again, repeated that I shouldn't be paying this anyways, and assured once again that I would pay.

I have tried contacting the school numerous times. I have made contact to the desk, the message is conveyed, then the dean and I play phone tag repeatedly for a few months. Every other time I call it is a different dean. I even tried calling another school that opened in my region if I could AT LEAST finish my schooling if I had to pay for it. Unfortunately "they are franchises," and neither of them could do anything about the situation.

This is upsetting as I paid out of pocket for the schooling I received. Then they have the audacity to sit back and let my tuition accrue without contacting me. It is sad that a company which avidly promotes the "BE NICE OR ELSE" book could be so conniving.

It would be different if they had called me to say "hey if you don't sign this you will be charged." Then, yes, I would totally charge me. Yet they remained silent and let it accumulate.

The worse part out of this- no matter how much I pay per month, it will not effect my balance because the interest charges are something like 20%. I mean, something RIDICULOUS. I thought I had misheard the collector and asked her to repeat herself and she did. Unless I pay it off in full, after winning the lottery, I will never be able to get rid of this debt.

About 4 months later after not hearing from any agencies or the school, I get a letter from a law firm claiming if I do not respond within 30 days (which will be the end of this month then I will be sued).

I called the school AND corporate last week. No return from corporate but I did receive a call from financial aid at the school claiming I am to fault. This situation is insane, and I feel helpless against such a large corporation. My options are slim.

I could sue, but it would cost more to do that. I might as well pay.

Lastly, I concur that, especially after this fiasco, this school has some issues. Apparently the case we received along with the DVD's had an estimated value of $1500. The CD's alone were claimed to be worth $500. When I first started, it seemed as though they somewhat had their situation together. I could have been blinded by the glamourous facade. Approximately within the 3 months that I attended that school, they fired/lost about 3-5 instructors, lost the financial aid woman who held them together, several assistants, and even the Dean himself.

Regarding the financial situation outside of tuition... we did have fashion shows and the one I did cost me money. The model or the future hairdresser was supposed to supply the clothing, shoes, hair accessories, and essentially make-up (considering our kit was a joke.) I ended up having to buy my model clothing because she didn't bring anything, and my clothes and shoes didn't fit her. Luckily we were located within the mall, so we just went out and bought something. The plan was to just take it back, or she was gonna keep it and reimburse me. We decided on the latter. I never received my money from her because she claimed that I owed her that because she could have "worked that day." Even though I asked her if it would put her out of her way. That night I even bought her dinner because she was broke, yet driving a benz.
Yes, this woman was supposed to be a friend... but that is besides the point...

For being such a luxurious company, you would think they would have connections to supply clothing instead of leaving a bunch of struggling college students to supply for such a massive event. It is particularly embarrasssing for the school and its image with it being in such a huge city.

If anyone has any ideas on how to get through this or how to handle the situation please let me know as soon as possible. This is such a bad dream, wish I would wake up, knowing that I never took a step in that school.
Comments:14 Replies - Latest reply on 2010-07-10
Posted by Weedwhacked on 2010-07-09:
Sue them because you owe them money? That's not going to work for you.
Posted by Pepper on 2010-07-09:
if you owe them money how will you finance the lawsuit?

Posted by jktshff1 on 2010-07-09:
+1000 ej...lmao!
Posted by FlShopper on 2010-07-09:
It was your responsibility to see to it that all of your financial obligations were taken care of. You neglected to do so.
Any chance you can get a balance transfer to move it on to a lower interest account?
Posted by tnchuck100 on 2010-07-09:
First sentence: "I can back you up on everything you just stated." --- Hmmmm.... Who stated what?
Posted by Geez Really on 2010-07-09:
Tnchuck100- It was in regards to another comment made. And weed, pepper, Jack, and Shiff obviously suing them would not make sense, as I mentioned earlier. I do deserve my money back though, no matter how "legal," one may think this is.

I will take some fault for this issue. However, omitting information to make money is wrong. It may not be illegal, but to wait 7 months to "realize" I was not attending school is a little excessive. That is 7 months they could have contacted me to resolve the situation and give me a heads up.

Many instructors and classmates knew my situation and that I was not coming back. I had even talked to the Admissions Leader and nobody reminded me of anything.

I guess if they have to stoop so low as to take advantage of a pregnant woman to keep the place running, then go for it.

Thank you FIShopper for being real. Yes I have tried that, but I am a full-time student, so without having a job it is difficult to open another account without financial backing. Once again, I agree it is my responsibility to follow my finances. Nevertheless, the complications after the agreement show they have no responsibility or organization. My bank account and credit score should not suffer for their lack of communication with me, and the collection agency, before and after the fact.

The poor experience while I was there does not help either. I should have left when all the experienced and intelligent instructors left. Sad I have to pay for nothing.
Posted by Weedwhacked on 2010-07-09:
Resolve the situation? Does that mean accepting less money than you owe them? Again, that's not going to work for you.
Posted by leet60 on 2010-07-09:
To the OP, simply put, it sounds as if you didn't thoroughly read or understand the original contract. In regard to one of your comments, most accredited universities or colleges, do indeed have a set policy on tuition vs attendance. Most are stringent, and should you "drop" a course you receive only a portion of your tuition refunded (keep in mind this has been paid in full in advance), and after a certain point in the term you receive nothing.

The contract likely was worded that you were obligated to pay the tuition regardless of whether you attended. For most technical or trade schools this is the case. You really need to review the contract and be sure you understand it - there will be terms such as providing "written" notice of disenrollment, how many classes you have attended etc. etc.

From your post it looks as if the school sold your debt to a collection agency - it will be a hard road to travel to get them to take it back at this point, the agency probably paid pennies on the dollar for your debt and will add fees and interest based on state law. If they serve you a summons of a lawsuit, don't ignore it because the court will simply assume you are admitting the debt and didn't want to attend and they will likely get a default judgement.
Posted by Geez Really on 2010-07-09:
Thank you Leet- I thoroughly went over the contract again and technically they are in the wrong according to what this states. It is slightly vague on how it is stated. I am working on a response right now because I am not admitting fault. A contract is a contract- I understand.

I knew about the tuition refund rule because I had dealt with that previously at another college. Never have I heard about having to write a written notice to leave school. Maybe for financial aid reasons but I was paying out of pocket. The way I'm looking at it is... if I didn't attend then why should I pay? I paid upfront for everything I received, so there was no reimbursement needed, we should have been square even.

In their eyes, they want to split it up differently so if you leave in a certain time frame so you will owe them or be reimbursed... most likely owe them money.

That day that I left many people knew I was not returning, including instructors. Considering they are called "daymakers" and they are supposed to be our mentors it is pretty bad nobody even mentioned it to me.

At an accredited college, if you stop going, they contact you. You say yes or no and what happened, if they ask for written notice then go for it. They say, "well you know you are in this tier so you owe $___". Then you say, uh oh, okay... well thats my fault and I'll pay.


Bye, bye! Hope everything turns out well for you! Then 8-9 months later after you left school, when you're in another state and ready to pop, right around Christmas time, get a call that you're $8000 past due. With NO notice, and they're taking it to collections.

We were in that state 5-6 months after I left school, plenty of time for them to send a letter asking for my status. Plenty of time to REALIZE I was not attending.

Not rocket science. Thats just pure greed.

And WEED- If "thats not going to work for you." is your response and you seem to know the answers, then please do share.

Posted by Pepper on 2010-07-09:
so by comparing the school to a college you are assuming the bills must be handled the same way?

"vague" sounds like you perhaps didn't understand the wording

and not liking it doesn't magically turn it into an illegal bill
Posted by biomajor on 2010-07-09:
My children are both in college right now. If they don't attend, they get F's. They are adults and will be treated as such. No one is going to call them. The school is paid for the semester in Advance, and they don't really care if you show or not.
Posted by Geez Really on 2010-07-09:
I did assume. Even reading it now, it is vague. I never said it was illegal or legal! I can see both sides to this.

Isn't the whole point to this thing is to get advice? I don't need criticism and people telling me things like "its like putting a screen door on a submarine," or "it doesn't magically turn it into an illegal bill," or "thats not going to work for you."

I don't need people telling me things I already know.

This situation is screwed up no matter what side you are on.

If someone has something productive to say, and an honest, determined, and productive thought. Like thoughts about how I can handle this effectively. Make it disappear. Negotiate. Lower the amount. Whatever. That would be great.

People who don't agree with me all the better. WHAT WOULD YOU DO, if YOU were put in this situation?

But don't worry, I know you "the faultless" would never be put in this situation because you all are so on top of your financial obligations all the time. I'm sure none of you have a credit card, or debt, or have been charged wrongly for something. I'm sure none of you have talked your way out of something that you probably did deserve, but someone let you slide because you didn't read the fine print.

So those of you who are perfect out there, please share your secrets to flawlessness, minus the sarcasm. And how you would fix this situation, if pigs flew, and you happened to get yourself into this mess.

Posted by Geez Really on 2010-07-09:
Biomajor- Yes, I agree with you. Nobody is going to hold your hand, you go to school if you want and if you do not you end up paying money for it.

I am currently attending college and paying for it, so I don't need a lesson on how to be an adult.

I am asking for advice on how to fix or help something that I cannot undo. I cannot go back and be an "adult" all of a sudden.

I had to learn my lesson, and it wasn't fun.

Also, I never had parents as strict and orderly as you sound. So I was not shown "the way" at this point. Fortunately, many kids have guidance. I however, did not.

SO, once again... anyone bright enough with actual ideas, or just more criticism on how ignorant I am and how I shouldn't have done it in the first place?

C'mon- we're beating a dead horse here.
Posted by Helpful on 2010-07-10:
Hi Geez. So have you had the baby? How are both of you health wise?

What I would honestly due, Geez, is make an appointment to meet with their financial department. It sounds like you've got a pretty good grasp now as to what you've signed and what your commitment is. You should also have a good grasp of what you can realistically afford to pay for this tuition.

There's an old saying that you can't get blood from a turnip. The idea is that if you don't have the money to pay for the tuition, regardless of your written agreement, you don't have the funds. They can sue, getting a judgment in court, all of which costs them additional money and the funds from you are not going to mysteriously appear. After getting a judgment, they can file for garnishments from your paycheck, but with you having a child and basic costs of living, that doesn't mean the extra money appears. The point is, if you don't have the money, you don't have the money. This is the point you're going to have to make to them.

What I would do is come to an agreement with them as to exactly what they are willing to settle for and what you feel COMFORTABLE being able to pay each month. ONCE YOU COME TO THIS AGREEMENT, HAVE IT PUT IN WRITING. Oral agreements are hard to enforce. Along with this agreement, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE THEM AGREE THAT ALL REPORTING TO A SEPARATE COLLECTIONS COMPANY AND ANYTHING NEGATIVE TO ANY OF THE CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES ARE REMOVED. AGAIN, GET IT IN WRITING. Further, anything that has already been reported negative is to be removed and, you got it, GET IT IN WRITING. Then it's important you stick with the agreement and MAKE SURE EVERY PAYMENT IS ON TIME AND DOCUMENTED. Pay them only with a personal check so that you've got a receipt.

This is all assuming that they're willing to have you sit down with their financial department, call off their collections team and work with you directly. The next question is what if they're not? Then you're going to use something called the FAIR DEBT REPORTING AND COLLECTIONS ACTS. These federal laws were passed, I believe, in the early 1990s. They protect you in just this case. What you have is them saying you owe something and you saying you don't, without an agreement. As such, you can put that very statement in writing and send it to them and their collections company. In this letter, you're going to reference the act or law and dispute the debt. You're also going to tell them that they are no longer allowed to contact you about the debt and that any reporting of the debt, to any credit reporting agency, will have to be officially reported as disputed. You can read samples of these letters on-line. They are usually referred to as a "Drop Dead Letter". If you check you credit and find that this debt is reported to any of the credit reporting agency(ies), you're going to send letters to each, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. This letter is going to inform them of the fact that you've disputed the debt and, by law, these agencies have 30 days to report the debt in the same fashion.

Ultimately, if you take or have to take this course of action, they are left with only two alternatives, drop the issue or file in court. Until a judge says you owe the money, you don't owe the money. It's going to cost them more to pursue this line of action and, even with a judgment, they may not be able to collect from you. If you don't have enough income, they will have to spend more for weekly or bi-weekly garnishments from your paycheck. There's a certain amount of funds that the government just agrees you are allowed to have in order to survive. So before they can take anything from you, you have to be making enough for them to do so. Otherwise it just keeps costing them more and more without seeing any returns. Hopefully you can see where I'm going with this. Ultimately, some people have to unfortunately take out bankruptcy, which doesn't remove the debt, but it doesn't allow them to get paid very quickly either. IN OTHER WORDS, IT'S TO THEIR ADVANTAGE TO SETTLE THIS TOO.

Okay, I know this was long but it will hopefully give you a clear path to help you along the way. SERIOUSLY, keeps us posted. All the best.

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