May I ask how in the US you normaly become a member of a dojo if not by signing a contract?
In wich way do you "fix" this?
And what about people who don't pay their dues?
And do you only pay for the classes, you attend?
Some pay monthly, some pay every three months which gives them a small discount. If you're going to take a leave you simply inform the powers that be.
If you stop paying someone will talk to you and try to work something out.
Some people prefer to work on a verbal agreement and a handshake.
I usually encourage new adult students to sign up and pay for three months as that gives them a small price break. I also suggest that they give themselves the three months to really get used to what they're doing and try to commit to sticking it out for all three. But some still come a few times then never return. And I'm not sure I'd feel all that good about taking someone's money for an entire year just to have them drop out a month or two later. Lots of gyms work that way and make a great deal of extra money on that sort of thing. I understand it. I'm just not sure it's something I would do.
WRT to the OP I really don't see a problem. Apart from concerns about contracts or unapproachable sensei, if he/she's not comfortable they should probably look elsewhere as I can't imagine they're going to learn to like working with someone they see as an aloof, unapproachable teacher. That's a tough thing for a beginner.