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villrg0a 10-09-2004 05:07 AM

Monthly Dues
 
Hello all

I have a problem with one of my Kohai's. He's been around the club for sometime, he's currently 1st kyu. He started as a white belt but had about 10 years of experience in other aikido schools where he came from. When he started out with our club we gave him the usual club membership fee, and of course the monthly dues orientation.

My problem is this....he only paid the membership fee, but never paid his monthly dues but keeps on practicing with us regulary (special guest?), and acts as if he is the only one who knows everything. Dojocho is not at all happy but recognizes kohais' uke skills. Reminders...reminders.... nothing seems to go through him. We tried to implement a per session scheme to try and accomodate him but still nothing. Now we are back with the monthly dues, issued a memo, and posted it on the board reminding everybody of their payment, still nothing.

We are renting and sharing our space with another group, and most of the collection goes to rental. Sometime our collections are not enough to get us by and we have to pay through our own pockects. I dont want to bybass the dojocho, but if it were up to me, I will kick this kohai out.

Have any of you encountered similar problems before? How did you handle it?

Regards

aikidoc 10-09-2004 07:16 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
It's real simple. You don't pay you don't play. He has an obligation to the dojo and the dojocho needs to intervene. Until his dues are up to date he should not be allowed on the mat. Perhaps that is why he has been to other dojos and is still a first kyu. You have obligations as does he. If he does not fulfill those obligations you are only increasing your risks of his getting injured and then what happens-legal issues, etc.

Jeff Baldwin 10-09-2004 12:45 PM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
First you should ask him if he knows that he is far behind in dues.

Next ask him why he hasn't paid.

Ask him when you might see a payment.

then let him know that other people are basically having to pay more because he is not honoring his obligation.

you don't need to be confrontational, just honest.

You shouldn't feel bad about taking care of dojo business. I do it all the time and my teacher(s) are quite fine with it.

senseimike 10-09-2004 01:08 PM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
At times it is better for sempai to take care of these types of issues and not the Dojo-cho. At our dojo we have students that are responsible for dues collection, tabulation of hours, etiquette and rules enforcement, etc. Dojo-cho is responsible for overseeing the dojo operations, teaching, and expressing his feelings and wishes to the trusted sempai of the dojo. If you might be one of these sempai I personally feel that you have a duty to address this issue, especially if your Sensei has expressed concern.

Lyle Laizure 10-09-2004 01:29 PM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Well isn't that just dandy. I suppose there is one for everyone. It happens and sometimes it is far more innocent than you might expect. Based on the information provided this person paid an associaiton fee and therefore belongs to the organization, so is therefore a member of your dojo. If your teacher/dojo-cho is upset this is how I would handle it.

I would pull the person aside after a practice and explain that it has come to your attention that he had paid his association fee but has not been paying dues and would ask him if there was any reason he is not paying dues. Depending on what he would say you could go as far as saying until he pays past dues he cannot attend class. If he has a problem with this then you can direct him to your sensei. But as Mike mentioned if it can be handled without having your sensei be the heavyhand on it, that is best. It would be a good idea to know how your sensei feels about it and it sounds like he is just as irritated about it as you. If confronted will your sensei support your actions? That is important to know as well.

I am a stickler for etiquette and protocol. There are a variety of ways to handle it but that is pretty much how I would do it. You may want to consider having a few of the senior students confront him at once so that he understands that it isn't you alone that is not going to tolerate his actions.

Yokaze 10-09-2004 04:04 PM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Remember that it is not you who would be rude for trying to get him to follow the rules. He is the one who is disrespecting the dojo by refusing to follow the etiquette and refusing to help support the dojo. I think it's fair to say that it's impossible that he doesn't know he's supposed to be paying. Maybe he's a person of limited means, and thus is unable to make payments. Being broke myself, I know this kind of awkwardness. Fortunately, I belong to a free club on campus that trains without fee.

Barring that situation, however, it is very important that this student pay his dues like everyone else or be asked, politely, to return to the dojo only when he has a payment ready and a willingness to continue to pay his monthly dues.

GaiaM 10-09-2004 04:48 PM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
I would not approach this person without being very sure that is what your sensei would want you to do. If you are certain of this, go ahead and approach them, if not, talk to your sensei first.

If this person has trained for ten years at other dojos then I doubt he is unaware of the system of monthly dues, and it sounds like it has been explained to him at your dojo as well.

Perhaps, as someone else said, he is unable to pay, or perhaps just is trying to get away with it as long as possible. At our dojo, if someone is unable to pay for financial reasons, we will accept as much as he or she feels they can give - we want people to be able to train. However, dues are an important part of an aikido community and if this person can possibly pay he should be asked to do so or leave the dojo.
Gaia

villrg0a 10-10-2004 01:01 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Thank you for your replies people. To add:

Yes, I am one of the Seniors in-charged. Dojocho is a bit more flexible than us.

We have constantly reminded the subject and will simply say, I will pay at the end of the month - then nothing - same routine again, and he is nearly approaching 2-years with us.

If he is really broke just like a few other students, we understand, but 2 years? I think he is just trying to get away with it. Dojocho was asked if he's got some special deal with this guy regarding dues, he said none. This is very much unfair for other students and even us seniors who up to now are still sharing....

I have tried to avoid confrontation with this guy, but would from time to time try to hit him indirectly with reminders, then memos - still nothing.

GaiaM 10-10-2004 08:58 PM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Sounds like it's time to ask him to leave or pay up...

PhilJ 10-11-2004 12:43 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Take one swing of the sword (figuratively, figuratively!) and be done with it. :)

At our old dojo for our group, I taught and still paid dues myself to help the dojo stay open. Of course, the owner tanked it, but I can still sleep at night.

Two years seems like a lot of time... too much waffling? :) Remind the person how important s/he is to the dojo and the valuable contributions s/he provides. Then gently remind the student they need to pay like everyone else, or they can no longer share those contributions.

*Phil

PeterR 10-11-2004 01:09 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Frankly it is your Dojo-cho's responsibility and the situation developed because it was not nipped in the bud. There are just some people who like to think they have a special understanding, are a special case. And here's the rub. He's only 1st Kyu - not that big of a fish.

Now you have a small problem - I don't think you will be able to collect arrears without driving the person away. You will most likely have to compromise which sets the precedent for the situation happening again.

I would make the dojo policy very clear.
I would negotiate an inflated (10-20%) increased contribution to help pay for the arrears.
Insist of payment at the beginning of the month from this (special) person - no pay, no train.

By the way my policy is first time visitors and Shodokan Yudansha don't pay - its my choice but I make sure its enforced across the board. I think if your dojo-cho doesn't mind this guy not paying than he really should be more even handed about it. No Ikkyu and above should pay.

villrg0a 10-16-2004 06:52 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Thank you all for your feedback - we have elected a new set of officers to hopefully take care of this problem, if not removed. If there are any more comments, please post. Regards!

taras 10-17-2004 07:39 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Once I had to quit Aikido because my parents could not afford my training and I was still at school. Now I am a treasurer of my dojo. I would not want to see anyone quitting because they can't afford it. I made this known to all the members and the policy is: if you can't pay, make sure we know about it. I ask when they think they would be able to pay. Peter made a very sound suggestion about working out a payment plan to sort out the arrears. (Cheers Peter, I'll use it in my dojo!)

We have had three people with a similar problem, each case was dealt with individually, but at all times we made sure that all decisions regarding those students were made by the dojo's governing board and that it wasn't an individual decision of one member.

The first person explained that he did not have the money to pay per lesson and he was allowed to train for a month. After a couple of reminders he paid in full.

Second person was on a monthly wage, and although he did not pay the first month we eventually received a full payment after two months. During the time when he could not pay he approached me himself and explained everything, and I made the board aware of this.

The third person was approached by myself, and then all the board the second time. He informed me that he did not have a job and found it hard. We have a policy saying that unwaged students should only be charged 2 per session. Those of you who live in the UK will agree that anyone on state benefits should be able to afford 2 a week for a 3 hour session. I happen to work i human resources for one of the supermarket chains and we happen to have about 40 vacancies at the moment with 300 a week wages, so I offered this person a job. As far as I am aware he has not applied yet. He assured me that he would pay, but from talking to him I got an impression that he was clueless as to how many sessions he trained for free. I will speak to him at the next session, and I will speak to the board again. I will let you know what happens.

Les Loschky 09-22-2008 11:49 PM

Re: Monthly Dues: Being a "member in good standing"
 
I have a related question. We have a small dojo and spend most of our dues to pay our rent and related expenses. In the last year, we have had a new member join. We have enjoyed having him as a member of the dojo, and get along very well with him.

In the last few months, however, he has not been able to attend class regularly, if at all, because he has had to attend to important family matters. This is not a problem for the dojo, since we believe family and work come first, then Aikido.

The problem is, since he stopped regularly attending classes, he has also stopped paying monthly dues. This has been for several months now. Recently, he came to the dojo, and I talked with him privately about it. I asked him if he was facing financial hardship. He said that he was not, and from what little I know, I believe him. I told him that our official, though unwritten, policy is that all "member(s) in good standing" need to pay their dues whether they are regularly attending or not. He told me that he had never been a member of a dojo in which that was the policy. I told him that, conversely, I have never been a member of a dojo in which that was not the policy. I explained that the reason is, if you want to remain a member of the dojo, even if you need to take a leave of absence for some time period, you hope that the dojo is still in existence when you return. Since rent payments cannot take leaves of absence, it is the shared responsibility of all members in good standing to pay dues on a monthly basis whether they attend regularly or not.

Something I did not mention, though I think it is another good example, is the annual membership dues we pay to our national association. A member in good standing has to pay those dues whether they are actively practicing or not. Only if one decides to quit the national association would one quit paying the dues.

He has brought up the case of our college student members. In particular, he has asked what we do about students who leave for the summer to go home, then return in the fall. I think it is a good question. The answer has to be the same--a member in good standing pays monthly dues whether they regularly attend or not--provided that they are financially able to do so. However, I know that some students are not financially able to do so.

We have not yet fully settled this issue. I would hate to lose this valuable member of our dojo over this matter. However, I also feel strongly about the principle of paying regular dues whether you attend regularly or not--provided you are financially able to do so. It seems that the cost is not a financial burden for him, but, rather, he doesn't feel he should have to pay dues when he is not attending.

Does anyone have an opinion on this matter?

Janet Rosen 09-23-2008 12:14 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Re the first situation: after TWO years (?!) its a little late to play the heavies and ask for back dues. Precedent has been set. If there is a systemic problem in the dojo with not enforcing rules, you might think about requiring automatic credit card or bank account deductions each month.
Re the second situation: In two dojos I have been a member of, you were expected to pay dues, regardless of whether you showed up or not, UNLESS you discussed w/ the dojocho taking a leave of absence. You were then considered a member of the dojo, didn't need to repay registration fees, but would need to resume monthly payments when you resumed training. Why not negotiate a leave of absence?

Hogan 09-23-2008 07:23 AM

Re: Monthly Dues: Being a "member in good standing"
 
Quote:

Les Loschky wrote: (Post 216670)
I have a related question. We have a small dojo and spend most of our dues to pay our rent and related expenses. In the last year, we have had a new member join. We have enjoyed having him as a member of the dojo, and get along very well with him.

In the last few months, however, he has not been able to attend class regularly, if at all, because he has had to attend to important family matters. This is not a problem for the dojo, since we believe family and work come first, then Aikido.

The problem is, since he stopped regularly attending classes, he has also stopped paying monthly dues. This has been for several months now. Recently, he came to the dojo, and I talked with him privately about it. I asked him if he was facing financial hardship. He said that he was not, and from what little I know, I believe him. I told him that our official, though unwritten, policy is that all "member(s) in good standing" need to pay their dues whether they are regularly attending or not. He told me that he had never been a member of a dojo in which that was the policy. I told him that, conversely, I have never been a member of a dojo in which that was not the policy. I explained that the reason is, if you want to remain a member of the dojo, even if you need to take a leave of absence for some time period, you hope that the dojo is still in existence when you return. Since rent payments cannot take leaves of absence, it is the shared responsibility of all members in good standing to pay dues on a monthly basis whether they attend regularly or not.

Something I did not mention, though I think it is another good example, is the annual membership dues we pay to our national association. A member in good standing has to pay those dues whether they are actively practicing or not. Only if one decides to quit the national association would one quit paying the dues.

He has brought up the case of our college student members. In particular, he has asked what we do about students who leave for the summer to go home, then return in the fall. I think it is a good question. The answer has to be the same--a member in good standing pays monthly dues whether they regularly attend or not--provided that they are financially able to do so. However, I know that some students are not financially able to do so.

We have not yet fully settled this issue. I would hate to lose this valuable member of our dojo over this matter. However, I also feel strongly about the principle of paying regular dues whether you attend regularly or not--provided you are financially able to do so. It seems that the cost is not a financial burden for him, but, rather, he doesn't feel he should have to pay dues when he is not attending.

Does anyone have an opinion on this matter?

Do you have a contract that requires mo dues to be paid (you did not indicate)? If not, he has no obligation to pay. If you had a contract, said contract would also spell out a Leave of Absence policy so he would be able to take some time off without paying & you would know ahead of time & be able to plan for it.

Nick P. 09-23-2008 09:37 AM

Re: Monthly Dues: Being a "member in good standing"
 
Quote:

Les Loschky wrote: (Post 216670)
I have a related question. We have a small dojo and spend most of our dues to pay our rent and related expenses. In the last year, we have had a new member join. We have enjoyed having him as a member of the dojo, and get along very well with him.

In the last few months, however, he has not been able to attend class regularly, if at all, because he has had to attend to important family matters. This is not a problem for the dojo, since we believe family and work come first, then Aikido.

The problem is, since he stopped regularly attending classes, he has also stopped paying monthly dues. This has been for several months now. Recently, he came to the dojo, and I talked with him privately about it. I asked him if he was facing financial hardship. He said that he was not, and from what little I know, I believe him. I told him that our official, though unwritten, policy is that all "member(s) in good standing" need to pay their dues whether they are regularly attending or not. He told me that he had never been a member of a dojo in which that was the policy. I told him that, conversely, I have never been a member of a dojo in which that was not the policy. I explained that the reason is, if you want to remain a member of the dojo, even if you need to take a leave of absence for some time period, you hope that the dojo is still in existence when you return. Since rent payments cannot take leaves of absence, it is the shared responsibility of all members in good standing to pay dues on a monthly basis whether they attend regularly or not.

Something I did not mention, though I think it is another good example, is the annual membership dues we pay to our national association. A member in good standing has to pay those dues whether they are actively practicing or not. Only if one decides to quit the national association would one quit paying the dues.

He has brought up the case of our college student members. In particular, he has asked what we do about students who leave for the summer to go home, then return in the fall. I think it is a good question. The answer has to be the same--a member in good standing pays monthly dues whether they regularly attend or not--provided that they are financially able to do so. However, I know that some students are not financially able to do so.

We have not yet fully settled this issue. I would hate to lose this valuable member of our dojo over this matter. However, I also feel strongly about the principle of paying regular dues whether you attend regularly or not--provided you are financially able to do so. It seems that the cost is not a financial burden for him, but, rather, he doesn't feel he should have to pay dues when he is not attending.

Does anyone have an opinion on this matter?

With respect, a good dojo member contributes to the wellfare of the dojo as a whole, and that includes monthly dues.

One way to make it clear to him is the following.

- Though there might not be a contract, it is everyones responsibility to pay on time every month. No exceptions.
- This dojo is not a for-profit business with "staff" making a salarie; indeed it is struggling to open its doors each month.
- It is insulting to all members who do pay their dues even though they are also absent.

Mr. Hogan: perhaps there is no contract and no clause, but the other side of that coin is that there is equally nothing saying he has the right to expect to be taught...even if he pays his dues.

Basia Halliop 09-23-2008 11:38 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Quote:

I told him that our official, though unwritten, policy is that all "member(s) in good standing" need to pay their dues whether they are regularly attending or not. He told me that he had never been a member of a dojo in which that was the policy.
Did someone explain this to him when he joined the dojo? Paying for a service when you don't want access to it at all is pretty unusual in most of life, and to me seems pretty weird, to say the least. Your reasons do make sense, though, but I would not blame someone for not thinking of it on their own.

You need to either make it a written policy and inform people at the same time as you tell them the fee, or make it a yearly fee and not have the option of a monthly one. If someone offers me the option of a monthly fee for something, I would probably automatically take that to mean they are telling me you can pay for just that month. Otherwise why would they have listed the option of a monthly fee? If someone told me after the fact I can kind of understand feeling like I'd been deceived or like they were making it up now (no one likes hidden fees, everyone hates phone companies). And that's part of why things (not just martial arts, but anything) that have monthly, quarterly, or yearly fees offer discounts for longer amounts -- because you're committing yourself.

Obviously this is a common way of doing things, and I can see that there is a certain logic and fairness to it (rent, etc). But IMO, you really have to tell people at the beginning. You can't just have 'unwritten' policies where money is concerned.

lbb 09-23-2008 01:12 PM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Quote:

Basia Halliop wrote: (Post 216697)
Did someone explain this to him when he joined the dojo? Paying for a service when you don't want access to it at all is pretty unusual in most of life, and to me seems pretty weird, to say the least. Your reasons do make sense, though, but I would not blame someone for not thinking of it on their own.

I wouldn't either, but it is IME pretty common among both dojos and commercial gyms. You're expected to pay at the beginning of the month; how many times you use the service is up to you. It would be pretty common for a commercial gym to suspend your membership if you didn't pay your fees, and to hit you with a reinstatement fee if you showed up a couple months later wanting to use the facilities.

That's kind of beside the point, though, because as OP said, this individual is practicing regularly. It's kind of unusual to use a service and not expect to pay for it, no?

Basia Halliop 09-23-2008 06:03 PM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
I was responding to Les Loschky's question, about the guy who left for a while and didn't see why he should keep paying during that time. Of course if someone's coming to class during that month then the answer is obvious (they have to pay).

Having a reinstatement fee is one way of dealing with people starting and stopping. But I guess for me the most important thing is that any policies regarding money need to be explicit and layed right out for people clearly from the start. I would never 'just assume' things about the exchange of money -- that's a great way to lose money, friends, or both.

George S. Ledyard 09-26-2008 02:18 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Quote:

Basia Halliop wrote: (Post 216697)
Paying for a service when you don't want access to it at all is pretty unusual in most of life, and to me seems pretty weird, to say the least.

Try joining a health club... you pay whether you take advantage of it or not. No one thinks this is unusual because that is the way clubs work. You pay or you quit.

The best way to handle dues at a dojo is by having an automatic payment system. We use the Affiliated Acceptance Corp. People can have their dues deducted from a checking account or put on a credit card. The can stop the payments any time with two weeks written notice.

This takes care of the flaky payers. It by far pays for itself in dues collected which you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. If folks want to stop their payments, they have to talk to you, not just disappear and reappear periodically.

SeiserL 09-26-2008 05:43 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
IMHO, now you may know why they have trained at so many schools prior to coming to you. Lets you know why they are.

Its is disrespectful.

Agreed, no pay = no play.

Business is business. If you cannot pay rent everyone loses. Its that loving protection thing for the people who are honorable and want to train.

Return his bow as he bows out.

Hogan 09-26-2008 07:26 AM

Re: Monthly Dues: Being a "member in good standing"
 
Quote:

Nick Pittson wrote: (Post 216687)
...
Mr. Hogan: perhaps there is no contract and no clause, but the other side of that coin is that there is equally nothing saying he has the right to expect to be taught...even if he pays his dues.

You are right, but why would anyone give money to someone to not be taught? This isn't like the government paying framers to not grow crops! :)

But the one essential requirement one needs to get someone to pay monthly is a contract - this is basic. And from what I am getting here, correct me if I am wrong, is that most people don't have one for their dojos?? If you don't have one, then don't complain you are not getting paid.

lbb 09-26-2008 07:37 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Why is a contract needed? Sensei can just tell them to pay or leave, no? You don't need a contract to enforce that.

Hogan 09-26-2008 08:16 AM

Re: Monthly Dues
 
Quote:

Mary Malmros wrote: (Post 216949)
Why is a contract needed? Sensei can just tell them to pay or leave, no? You don't need a contract to enforce that.

Quite right. But you need a contract to enforce payment. Isn't that what is being talked about here? That people should pay even without contract because of some "obligation"?


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