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Charlie

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Reply with quote  #1 
My daughter competed independently last year, so I have accounts with various competitions. She is on team this year, and they recently added the fees of our first competition to our accounts. I felt they seemed high, and since I still had an account with this competition, I have access to the fees. I discovered that the studio is charging the dancers the fees if you pay 29 days or less before the event plus an additional $5 per routine. So we are already paying and additional $9 per routine because they are submitting the payment after the early discount price and still charging $5 ontop of that. $14 per routine! Not to mention our fees are due before the early discount date. This is really bothering me. I really don’t know what to do with this info. Part of me wants to bring it up to the owners, but since my daughter has decided that this is her last year of competitive dance, maybe I should just let it go. Any thoughts ?
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Julieg

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Reply with quote  #2 
My first thought is that they probably paid the early bird registration fee and pocketed the entire $14.  To me, it's incredibly dishonest. I have no problem with a processing fee but I think $5 is plenty. But, if you say anything you will probably get some sort of this is a for profit business speech and then your daughter won't be treated as well.  At least that has been my experience when questioning additional costs that we were never warned about.  So, if it were me I would do one of two things.  I would either say nothing and let your daughter have a really great last year and realize that in the whole scheme of things a few hundred dollars isn't going to break you.  Or, I'd say something non-accusatory like, "I have access to all of the comp prices since my daughter competed independently last year.  I noticed that you didn't get our payment in until the higher late registration price was applied.  For the next competition could you please get the payment in sooner so we won't be hit with the bigger expense?"  I think that kind of puts them on notice that they aren't fooling you but in a nicer way.  But, be prepared, when people realize that their lies aren't working on you they tend to treat you poorly like there's something wrong with you for figuring out their lies.

Edited to add:  You could also say something about being concerned that waiting until the last minute not only costs you more but you are also concerned that competitions that you plan on attending may turn you away because they are full already.

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Phx115

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Reply with quote  #3 
I'm not sure how to advise you. Does the comp handbook spell it out, especially the extra $5? Really, you can't control how the studio pays its bills, but charging a $5 fee and not telling you is fraud, isn't it?

DD's old comp studio was upfront with the fact it charged a $5 fee per dance, per comp. I'm not sure if we ever got the early bird rates, though. However, same as you, our comp fees were due 2-3 months before the comp so, technically, the early bird rate should have applied.

DD's new studio doesn't require payment of comp fees until 2 weeks before the comp. They'll even bend on that. So, I'm pretty sure there's no early bird happening there. They don't charge a per dance, per comp fee.

If it isn't a stretch financially, I'd maybe let it go, for now. However, I would definitely bring it up at the end of the season and suggest that it might be in the studio's best interest to spell out ALL fees in future handbooks.
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Jacaranda

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Reply with quote  #4 
Your dance studio is a business, this is how they make money. It is very normal for studios to mark up fees for competitons entries and costumes in order to cover costs. Taking kids to competitions is an expensive process. They must pay the teachers to travel to the competitions and work extra hours, they don't work for free. Kids on comp teams usually pay the lowest rates per hour at the studio, as the kids are in there so many hours.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #5 
Your fees are due before the early bird discount but does that mean all the paperwork for all the groups is done and the money has cleared their account and been sent in?

As customers, we are not privy to all the details of the business, not even at a not for profit. If they don't charge additional fees, then they need to raise the tuition to cover everything they do outside of the classroom.

It's funny. When DD moved from a comp school to a ballet school, dh was concerned because the tuition was higher. I had to explain there would be no competition fees, no or few costumes (I bought one the first year and it was less than $50), no crazy ticket prices for the recitals, and so on. We paid a small participation fee for Nutcracker. It was actually a relief!
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tappinmom

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Reply with quote  #6 
Since it is her last year I would leave it alone and just let her have a good year.  If you say ANYTHING it is likely to come back on your child.  Every studio DS attended marked up comp fees and costumes.  It wasn't spelled out in writing but it was understood.
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Rebelina

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Reply with quote  #7 
We pay a flat fee for each competition dance. This fee includes the competition fees, costume, rehearsal time, and coaches fees. The coaches fees allow for the studio to pay for the coaches to be at the competitions all weekend long. Your studio may be maarking up the entry fees to help pay for coaches time or other fees they incur during the competition.
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DMSO

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Reply with quote  #8 
Do you expect to enter a store and pay the same cost as the store when it purchased the product wholesale? As a studio owner my costs include the entry fees, staff salary, travel, meals, and hotel expenses for myself and staff. What most people consider 'cost' is never truly 'cost'. No one is entitled to know my cost and 'mark-ups'. My cost is not your cost. If you want to alienate your SO then go ahead and tell her how to run her business.....
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lovinmylife

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Reply with quote  #9 
Of course studios mark up their comp fees. How else would they pay their staff salaries, lodging, food etc?
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #10 
How would they pay for their food, lodging, etc? With all the other outrageous tuition and fees so many of them impose. If your studio doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for your kid to do comp.... that’s great. Consider yourself lucky. But many do. In which case an extra 5 here, an extra 5 there, just feels like nickel and diming.

IDK It’s just interesting to me how similar policies by other businesses would never be tolerated and yet so many are so quick to give the dance studio owner a pass. What if, for example, your insurance man tacked on a separate line item for travel, parking fees, lunch, etc. every time he came to your office for an appointment? He deserves to be reimbursed too, doesn’t he? My guess is that most would say absolutely not... that’s just part of his job. Well, same principle can be applied here. Can’t have a comp team without bringing your team to comps. It’s part of what a studio owner signs up for when they chose to have a comp team. Are you making money but want to make even MORE? How about doing what most business owners do when they want to make more money...increase your customer base. Instead of just finding another way to stick it to your existing loyal customers. That’s just shi$$y.

eta: and again, I’m specifically referring to those studios who are already charging you an arm and a leg for the “privilege “ of being on the comp team. If your SO is doing everything in their power to keep the costs down, then obviously I’m not talking about them
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melissa745

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Reply with quote  #11 
I would certainly not assume that your school gets the early bird discount or pays before you pay the fees. I can’t imagine a studio would keep that kind of cash on hand. Likely, they pick a date and then have to wait for those payments to clear and hound a few slackers who “forget” and get it in just before it’s due.

I do not think any fraud is going on. At that studio, the cost for comp X is $$. You don’t have any options. Our studio doesn’t even credit our account with the “winnings” from previous year. She uses those discounts to cover other expenses we aren’t charged for - like props and DT accommodations at nationals.

I would advise letting this go, whether it’s your last year or not. Either you are happy with the instruction and can afford the fees or you can’t.
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rdsmom

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Reply with quote  #12 
I actually think it's reasonable to pay a dance teacher for his or her time, whether that time be at the studio or during a competition. A competition is horribly (wonderfully?) chaotic for most dance teachers. They (at least our DT's) are up at 5am, and finding time for both groups and solos to rehearse and stretch and warm up. They watch their groups and solos, try to watch as many from our studio as possible, and attend awards. They usually are at the last awards session of each night, which will all know is at least 10 pm and usually later. That being said, our previous studio upcharged each entry fee, kind of like what the OP said. Our current studio charges a $20 per student/$30 family max, per competition. We have 20 dancers in the company, and if you do the math for it including the families with multiples, that's $370 for the weekend for our 2 teachers to split. Working for probably what, 30 hours total? Roughly $6 per hour. So I usually buy lunch and Starbucks for them!

As to your question, I agree with the majority. It's probably going to fall on deaf ears in the best case, and the SO will be annoyed at you and possibly take it out on your DD in the worst case. 
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #13 
Realized I didn’t address the question. Me? I wouldn’t suggest saying anything. Not because I don’t believe it’s any of your business.... it’s your money, of course it’s your business to know what you’re spending it on and why... but because there’s nothing to be gained. They aren’t going to rethink their policy. And the discussion may not go well. Just one of those things that is what it is. And it’s your last year anyway. Probably best, in the big picture, to just grit your teeth and bare it. But yeah, I do understand why you’re a tad irritated. I prefer full disclosure myself.
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emmymom

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Reply with quote  #14 
The bottom line is, you're going to pay for all the DTs 12-16 hour days at the venues somewhere, somehow and you should expect to.  They do deserve to be compensated for this time and studio owners are allowed to make a living at their businesses as well.  

Some studios may not add an increase to competition fees, but will have slightly higher tuition, the markup on costumes may be more, or their comp required clothing will be more expensive than others.  

DD's studio always tacked on an admin fee to competition fees, I was fine with it.  If it covered the cost of her choreographer being with her at the high school an hour and a half away at 11pm on a Friday night for her solo and back at 7am on Saturday to run her small groups, I was more than happy to pay the up-charge.  

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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #15 
Just for the sake of discussion... taking the “of course such mark ups are justified” stance because “of course we should expect to pay for the very long hours of all those hard working teachers”.... assumes that every comp team brings a slew of hardworking teachers to every loooong weekend of comp. Which they don’t. At dd’s old comp studio, none of the choreos were in attendance, just the team manager and ‘sometimes’ the SO. And some dancers were even left on their own if they were scheduled super early or super late (if they weren’t likely to win anything) so, no, loooong days were not at all the norm. Not to mention, I’m not so sure I’d refer to them as ‘hard working”necessarily. Sometimes it felt like they were in the way... and the dancers may actually have been better off without them and their anxiety provoking ways LOL Anyway, my point is simply that we may not be able to use what we know as a basis for a general opinion here. I think this is definitely another one of those cases where “it depends”.
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Jacaranda

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidi459


IDK It’s just interesting to me how similar policies by other businesses would never be tolerated and yet so many are so quick to give the dance studio owner a pass. What if, for example, your insurance man tacked on a separate line item for travel, parking fees, lunch, etc. every time he came to your office for an appointment? He deserves to be reimbursed too, doesn’t he? My guess is that most would say absolutely not... that’s just part of his job. Well, same principle can be applied here. Can’t have a comp team without bringing your team to comps. It’s part of what a studio owner signs up for when they chose to have a comp team.


But when the insurance salesman comes to your door, it is during their regular working hours. Dance comps are almost always on weekends, it is also often very long hours. I don't know about you guys in the US, but here they are covered by an award which means the studio is required to pay them for their travel, meal expenses, hotel stay if messesary and hours worked.

Some studios do t pay them and expect them to do this work as volunteers, but if they are paid employees of the studio they could end up in a bit of trouble for that one. Some studios just have the SO take the kids, but. most of the studios we see bring their teachers.

Also (again this might just be in Australia), when I go to the hairdresser on a Sunday I pay a surcharge, because the stores are required to pay employees more on a Sunday. When we go to many restaurants on a Public holiday, we pay a surcharge because restaurants must pay their employees more on those days. Dance studios are not the only businesses to do this.
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rdsmom

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidi459
Just for the sake of discussion... taking the “of course such mark ups are justified” stance because “of course we should expect to pay for the very long hours of all those hard working teachers”.... assumes that every comp team brings a slew of hardworking teachers to every loooong weekend of comp. Which they don’t. At dd’s old comp studio, none of the choreos were in attendance, just the team manager and ‘sometimes’ the SO. And some dancers were even left on their own if they were scheduled super early or super late (if they weren’t likely to win anything) so, no, loooong days were not at all the norm. Not to mention, I’m not so sure I’d refer to them as ‘hard working”necessarily. Sometimes it felt like they were in the way... and the dancers may actually have been better off without them and their anxiety provoking ways LOL Anyway, my point is simply that we may not be able to use what we know as a basis for a general opinion here. I think this is definitely another one of those cases where “it depends”.


...which is probably one reason it's your dd's OLD studio. 
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Phx115

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidi459
Just for the sake of discussion... taking the “of course such mark ups are justified” stance because “of course we should expect to pay for the very long hours of all those hard working teachers”.... assumes that every comp team brings a slew of hardworking teachers to every loooong weekend of comp. Which they don’t. At dd’s old comp studio, none of the choreos were in attendance, just the team manager and ‘sometimes’ the SO. And some dancers were even left on their own if they were scheduled super early or super late (if they weren’t likely to win anything) so, no, loooong days were not at all the norm. Not to mention, I’m not so sure I’d refer to them as ‘hard working”necessarily. Sometimes it felt like they were in the way... and the dancers may actually have been better off without them and their anxiety provoking ways LOL Anyway, my point is simply that we may not be able to use what we know as a basis for a general opinion here. I think this is definitely another one of those cases where “it depends”.


This is our studio exactly!!!

eta: The tap teacher always attends as does the comp team director who, when she's not running dances, spends a lot of time texting. Frankly, I'm of the belief that if the dancers don't know a dance by comp day ... well, um ... it is a little late. Keep in mind, it's a SMALL comp team - maybe 17 dancers total and all of them at least 10 and older. They don't need quite the hand holding that the minis would require.

For YAGP and WBAC, however, we pay a $100 coaching fee. I'm fine with that except at WBAC, I ran my daughter's dances both the night before and the day of the competition because nobody else would have.
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dancedivasx2

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Reply with quote  #19 
The studio is using that su
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dancedivasx2

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Reply with quote  #20 
Here is a list of what that $5.00 to $10.00 fee is covering:

Enter each dance online
Enter each dancer
Upload each song individually
Invoicing each dancer
Tracking payment - calling for payment
Credit card payment processing by hand for each payment
The teacher’s gas, parking and lodging.

I am sure I am missing something. :0)

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Jacaranda

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phx115


This is our studio exactly!!!

eta: The tap teacher always attends as does the comp team director who, when she's not running dances, spends a lot of time texting. Frankly, I'm of the belief that if the dancers don't know a dance by comp day ... well, um ... it is a little late. Keep in mind, it's a SMALL comp team - maybe 17 dancers total and all of them at least 10 and older. They don't need quite the hand holding that the minis would require.

For YAGP and WBAC, however, we pay a $100 coaching fee. I'm fine with that except at WBAC, I ran my daughter's dances both the night before and the day of the competition because nobody else would have.


Our teachers always attend comps, in fact I have never seen a group attend comps without a teacher (Solos are a different story).

The teachers
Make sure kids are dressed and ready on time
Help with costume, hair etc
Warm up the kids
Run the routines
Deal with any last minute issues
Supervise students in dressing rooms and back stage
Sort out props and get them on and off the stage
Hand in the music. And make sure it is correctly labelled, or play the music (depending on the studio)
Collect the music, reports awards etc from the music table after each section
Read the kids the reports and hand out any awards to them
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nicknoralove

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Reply with quote  #22 
Our studio writes out contracts and rules/fees for the year at the beginning of each dance season. They spell out all the fees for comp that they charge in addition to the fees the comp charges. Each studio should be doing this, if not I can see being frustrated. 
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emmymom

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicknoralove
Our studio writes out contracts and rules/fees for the year at the beginning of each dance season. They spell out all the fees for comp that they charge in addition to the fees the comp charges. Each studio should be doing this, if not I can see being frustrated. 


I do agree that studios should be upfront about all of their prices including markups to comp fees.  Our admin fees were listed each year on our contracts as well so there were no surprises.
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emmymom

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Reply with quote  #24 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phx115
This is our studio exactly!!! eta: The tap teacher always attends as does the comp team director who, when she's not running dances, spends a lot of time texting. Frankly, I'm of the belief that if the dancers don't know a dance by comp day ... well, um ... it is a little late. Keep in mind, it's a SMALL comp team - maybe 17 dancers total and all of them at least 10 and older. They don't need quite the hand holding that the minis would require. For YAGP and WBAC, however, we pay a $100 coaching fee. I'm fine with that except at WBAC, I ran my daughter's dances both the night before and the day of the competition because nobody else would have.


DD attended a very large studio and I assure you that on any given comp day there were no less than 5-6 teachers there and they were certainly doing far more than teaching or perfecting dances an hour before taking the stage or hand holding. 

DD had some truly wonderful teachers who were totally committed to and involved in their students.  They wanted to share the experience with them, to revel in their successes, to laugh at their funny mistakes, and to encourage them to be their very best regardless of the outcome.  Two years out of her studio, she still is in contact with many of her former teachers.  She even received "good luck" texts from a couple of them before her final exams at college. 

Over my long years in the comp world, I have witnessed so many "special" moments between DTs and their students while at competitions (not just my own DD).  It's actually sad to me that some students never find this kind of relationship with a dance teacher as students are in the studio so many hours each and every week and DTs often become an important influence in their lives (positively or negatively).     
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Billpayer2000

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Reply with quote  #25 
I have no issue with a mark-up $5-10 as part of the dance studio business.   I think our SO is very honest with us, we changed competitions for our last one since she did not charge enough for the fees in the late summer/early fall to cover it and didn't want to bill us again. Heck, our old studio charged a studio fee of about $20 for each routine above the entry fee.  We didn't do comp there, but before auditioning, parents were provided with a cost list and I appreciated the honesty of it.

I have had families considering competition ask me what it costs and I am honest with them about it.  We started off very small 6 years ago with this at 2 small group numbers and have grown into 4-5 small groups, 1 large group and then either a solo or duet/trio.  We seem to have added something every year. 

I would not likely just keep the information to myself, to not appear gossipy.  If I really felt like i was being taken advantage of with fees, I would just move on.  But my philosophy has always been (if I am basically satisfied with a situation) is to "stick with the dogs I know."  Things aren't always better somewhere else.
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