Does anyone else go to an Arthur Murray and have a hard time with the studio's customer-unfriendly policies? I have been at the Arthur Murray Ann Arbor studio for over two years but they have policies that make me wonder how they are still in business. For example, they will not allow me to take a lesson at a nearby Arthur Murray, nor will they allow my friend from that Arthur Murray to take a lesson at my studio. I never feel like they listen to any of my concerns. The teachers gossip about students behind out backs (and sometimes when we are in ear-shot). Going to Arthur Murray is VERY expensive and I am getting tired of such a poor customer experience. Anyone else have problems with their Arthur Murray? Also, if you are in southeast Michigan and have a suggestion for a better studio, please share! Thank you.
If you look at old posts there are raging debates about the evils and perils of chains. Fred Astaire and Arthur Murray have a lot of enemies. You will notice that their friends: A. tend to work for them, B. are in one of those magical few places with decent instructors and managers, C. is a haplsess soul. One of the people who are still in the thrall of finding dance and haven't figured out they are being ripped off by teachers who prey on their emotions and love of dancing.
I was a Fred Astaire student (read victim). It took me a long time to find the right independent instructor. You have to go out there and research them like you would someone you were hiring because that is what you are doing. Get on the internet and start researching your area. Go out and meet the instructors. Watch how they work with students and NEVER pay for more than one lesson at a time. There are great teachers out there. You can find them. If your area supports more than one AM than I can guarantee you there are independent chains. I just googled ballroom dance Michigan and there are tons of hits in the southeast.
Alarm bells go off as soon as I hear "they won't allow me". AM studios are like that all over the world. I have a friend who was very happy at an AM until she told her instructor about a dance she went to on a weekend. It was not associated with any studio. Her instructor told her she was 'not allowed to' go to any dance in the city without his permission. She reminded him that he had no control over her social life, she could dance where she wanted and she left the studio and found an independent.
Before you guys bash the entire organization too much, you should know that none of these are official policies of AMI.
One of the specific selling points of Arthur Murrays is interchangeable lessons. You should be able to buy lessons at one studio and use them at any other studio worldwide. This is true even in spite of the fact that different studios have different rates (and by the way, students can use that fact to their advantage). If a studio owner tells you otherwise, you should immediately report them to AMI headquarters.
As far as "not being allowed" to venture out, it's understandable why they might not want a student to do that -- the instructors are generally entry-level with a high turnover rate -- they nonetheless do not have a right to enforce any such policy. Again, this is not a reflection of the organization; It's simply a misinformed teacher or studio owner who should be set straight.
I fully support Arthur Murray, Fred Astaire, and all of the chain studios operating in the U.S. and worldwide. They bring tons of people into the business who would never have otherwise joined. And by the way, I'm one of them. So next time you're watching a video clip or posting a message here, remember that without Arthur Murray, this website wouldn't even exist.
True, they are extremely overpriced for the level of instruction, and to make up for that fact, there is an emphasis on high pressure sales tactics. But this is part of the method that indoctrinates so many students into the ballroom world, which trickle down to the independents. And they do provide certain services that no independent teacher alone can provide. So whether you love them or hate them, the chain schools are an extremely important part of our business.
There's my two cents. Now bash away.
Regards, Jonathan Atkinson www.ballroomdancers.com
Just a side note re: interchangeable lessons - when I was an AM student, my contract had a clause that lessons were not interchangeable at another studio within a 25 mile radius of the home studio. So, students need to actually read their contracts to see if there are restrictions like that. There were several times that I used interchangeable lessons at studios outside that 25-miles radius, and it was very, very easy to do.
I'd like to talk about difficulties in a different light as it relates to Arthur Murray. Both my husband and I have been taking lessons for 3 years at Arthur Murray, and we are very pleased with our level of instruction. What is missing, however, is an ability to easily remember and practice what we learned in a lesson.
Isn't it time that every Arthur Murray work with a website like Ballroom dancers so we can go home and see a professional video of what we've just learned so we can practice it? I realize we can video what we've just learned, but that eats into our lesson, and quite often doesn't depict everything at the right angle to see the steps for both the man's and woman's part. Additionally, if the step is being done with a student, and the student doesn't know the step yet, there will be errors in his or her video, which will then be practiced by the student. Another issue is finding the video months later, because if you don't name it and save it properly, it's always a chore to find it. My husband and I often refer to ballroomdancers for specific Arthur Murray steps, but they aren't called by the same names, or they are sometimes done slightly different: and this is my frustration with Arthur Murray. Truthfully, it's 2017 and the use of the Internet and Videos (where you can slow them down to analyze the step) would be so helpful. Furthermore, I truly believe that Arthur Murray franchises would benefit from making videos available because this would keep students from getting discouraged and dropping out.
Over the years I have recommended this, (although I have not mentioned it to the new owners of our studio) and the thought was that it would result in students turning to the videos and not taking lessons: I believe just the opposite. Most people can't learn alone from watching a video-- but it's sure a fantastic tool for practice and reinforcement. I also once wrote the main office in Florida to suggest this and didn't even get a response.
Furthermore, I believe that a system could be created that when a student learns a step during a private lesson, the video is released for practice which is available for a certain period of time OR videos for a specific dance at a certain level are released to practice. It's time to begin to think differently about how to attract and maintain students. The price per lesson is very high, many cannot afford it, and for those who can, they want to see more progress. I'm 60 years old, and having a video of the material I just learned would be a huge asset for me. It's just too difficult for me to remember all the material.
I also dance at a chain studio. My instructors are phenomenal. In the four years I have been there, I have learned so much and am truly addicted to ballroom. I'm also in my 60s and challenged to retain steps and techniques from week to week. I video new steps and exercises during class but it does take time away.
I am a heavy user of resources like this site as I learn international standard - my great challenge and love. I think that far from replacing lessons, this sort of resource augments skills, builds confidence and hones technique. For me, any progress I can make between lessons makes me MORE likely to take further lessons and learn more steps and details.
I know that the chain managements make big changes slowly and carefully - as they should - but maybe if we keep pushing and reasoning with them someday they'll create this resource! Or maybe they could cooperate with sites like this that already have much of the production in place. That would work for me!
My mantra in life is that information is always to be sought, analyzed and used! I hope you are listening, franchisees!
These schools and their offshoots are deplorable. But, just to lighten things up a bit, go to the AM web site at http://www.arthurmurray.com/index.htm
The site's intro is hilarious. If you're from my age group, you might think you are watching a bad parody of a 1970s television show introduction. Maybe like Charlie's Angels or something. It's so bad that it's funny.
Ladydance, what your friend experienced is disgusting. It's good she had the fortitude to leave.
My wife and I take lessons at the Sterling Heights AM studio and are quite happy with how we are treated and our instructors. They do have some policies that I don't always agree with and have said so and kid them about, but it's their policies set forth by AMI. I'm not aware of any unreasonable local studio rules. I cannot comment on the exchange policies within in the immediate area but I have very easily taken exchange lessons while travelling and have been recieved well and had great instructors as recently as last week in Chicago.
As far as gossip goes that is human nature and goes on every where in any kind of business, if it is in earshot of students or a customer that is poor judgement by an individual. I'm willing to bet there is just as much or more gossip on the sudents side about instructors as well as other students and not very discretely at times.
In regards to cost, at first look it is pricey but when you consider all the available group lessons and practice session that are open to me it is comparable to many independent studios that I have researched. Other places one would have to pay for each group lesson in addition to the private lessons, we try to take advantage of every opportunity.
It is unfortunate that someone was told they needed permission from an instructor to go dance anywhere else in the city. The point of taking lessons anywhere is to go out and dance whenever and where ever. In fact it is encouraged, supported and opportunities pointed out by instructors of places to dance. We have run into AM students at many of the area dances other than AM events. Just last weekend there was an opportunity at another AM studio, too bad we could not go because we heard everyone had a great time. We all share information about dancing, one student even sends out e-mails to keep anyone interested informed of places to dance. In fact earlier this week there was a discussion how we could inform other AM students from surrounding Studios so that we can all have a good time dancing together.
We have a lot of fun at the Arthur Murray Studio in Sterling Heights, made many new friends, including instructors and owners, and we even learn to dance. It's a nice facility, sometimes we forget that it's a business. As in any business not everyone is happy all of the time. As Waltz123 said if it were not for franchise studios many of us would not be dancing.
pgruener - I agree that there are many benefits to the Arthur Murray program, and I have received some good instruction, but your point about going out wiht students from other Arthur Murray's is EXACTLY the issue here. I too have met excellent people from other Arthur Murrays in the area, and this is how this problem came up in the first place... my studio, Ann Arbor, said I was not allowed to take any lessons with a person from another SE Michigan studio and we were not allowed to visit one another's studios to practice together.
dpalincs, When I spoke of going out dancing with other AM Studio students I was referring to other venues, not at AM unless it was an open to the public event such as the dance this past Saturday. In regards to combining lessons with students from other studios and practicing at other studios, I don't know the policy and as I stated before, I cannot comment on that. From an adminstrative and operational view I would guess that to be a nightmare to control since they are individualy owned franchises and businesses. It also has the potential to crowd a facility and inconvenience other regular students at that studio, but that is my view.
For practicing and dancing with others there are numerous places to go at a very reasonable cost $5 - $10. One is right in Ann Arbor at UofM on Sunday nights, huge dance floor. A group of us has come across town and we had a great time and plan to return. On Facebook there is a Southeastern Michigan Arthur Murray Studios page perhaps some of the places we go to can be listed, check it out. I believe AM Sterling Heights made mention of several places. Hopefully we will see you at some of the events, we always have fun.
Dpalincs, there are threads and threads and hundreds of previous posts regarding chain studios, policy practice, charges and the like. I too, when i started was with AM in Southern California. It was not a problem to attend group party nights at other AM venues - however that was the call of the franchise owner(s). Some other regions, here, the owners would prefer you go outside the 25 mile boundary. The social circles that develop in the AM studio - get together and find a dance e.g., as other posters have suggested in your area - and all of you go to it. Or you and your friend go to a dance venue. It takes some research, and yes, there are policies that can leave you scratching your head, for the most part it's a matter of protecting ones business student income from going elsewhere. We left AM years ago, and while we loved our instructors - the owner/managers literally drove us nuts with the policies. We found plenty of other independent studios and teachers that had no problem with us visiting, or going to someone elses dance/show/party/open houses - etc etc. Good Luck!
This sounds more like the fault lies with either the franchisee or the manager of the studio (if they're different people). My wife and I have gone to an AM in Morton Grove IL for a few years now, and not only have we taken lessons (and attended parties) at other AM studios (owned by other franchisees), there's even a standard AM form that the branch you're visiting sends to your regular branch. The Chicago franchisee seems to run a very tight ship, and the instructors have never been anything other than completely professional both in their conduct in the studio and in their teaching methods.
Big time difficulties. A cookie cutter approach, and if anything happens to you--a move, a debilitating illness--you won't get a penny back for unused lessons. You will be stonewalled. This is what happened when my wife became ill last spring. Check out "Arthur Murray Dance Studios Ann Arbor" at ComplaintsBoard.com for the story of someone who lost $800 to the studio because of a job transfer.I might note that Curves was very compassionate toward my wife when refunding the unused portion of the package deal she had with them.
"Again, each studio is independantly owned, and the obligation by each studio is normally up to the franchisee.
I have worked for both A/M and F/A in past yrs , and there are decent and good owners, and some that are otherwise.
One should not use a broad brush to decribe the whole organisation ."
This claim always struck me as pointing out the fallacy of the whole idea.
What's the point of having a brand name - and paying a premium for it - if those in the know will then point out that each individual franchise location is different, some being good and some unfortunately not so much?
I've always felt that ballroom teachers must be evaluated as individuals. Sometimes that meant taking from people who happened to own franchise studios, but such fact was never relevant to the decision - in effect owning the franchise location was their "day job" unconnected to their real teaching role which was entirely separate from the commercialized offerings available to walk ins at the reception desk.
A natural extension of this is that one is a student of a specific teacher sought out for one purpose or another, not of the studio where they happen to be operating on any given day.
Started dancing not long ago. My instructor has made dancing FUN for me. I can tell you if it was not fun I would not be doing it. I do think the prices are rather expensive. If you figure in how much I dance every week including two lessons I can't say enough about the format. This is the corporate world, which I was a part of for many years. They provide floor space, good instructors and weekly activities. You need to take it for what it is and what it provides. Now go out and have some FUN!
To the official poster. I've been a Fred Astaire student for a couple of years now and I sometimes wonder why I'm still there. I guess I don't have the guts to move on. I totally see what you're talking about when it comes to concerns basically being ignored by management. I sometimes even wonder if they gossip about me or any other student which is something else that you brought up. For some reason, my instincts are saying that they are. I'm not going to go any further in explaining my situation since I know what I should do to make things better and I can't find the nerve to do it so I only have myself to blame.