An exciting start
Claudia and myself had been wanting to joing a ballroom dance class for quite a while now, and then recently, I stumbled upon the website of De Happening dance school in Almere.

Despite the website looking like it last had a design change around 1995 (translated as ugly), I saw on the site that the dance school was offering a new beginners class that was going to begin at the beginning of April.

The first four lessons would cost €39 per couple , which was more than affordable, and would be held on Sunday afternoons. In addition, the added benefit of this class was that it was advertised as an international class, so it would be conducted in both English and Dutch, which would be idea for us.

So, I emailed the dance instructor, saying we would like to join, and in the same mail, also enquired how much it would cost after the introductory month. The only response I was able to get out of them was “By the third week of the classes full details of the pricing for the lessons will be given to us.”

We were really looking forward to it, as we were looking forward to doing something together.

The lessons start
Thus, we attended our first lesson, and were surprised to find that there were only us and one other couple who had arrived. Apparently five couples had confirmed, but we were the only ones who had arrived.

The class itself went quite well, and they even let Cole have an iced tea, putting the €2 on a tab for us, which we would pay the next week, since we had no cash on us at the time.

By the end of the end of the first lesson, they started pushing the full course of lessons already. Since there were only two couples in the class, they wanted to move us to the group that had started dancing in January once our introductory lessons were over.

The big shock
That would have been no problem at all, except for one small problem. This class (the Bronze course – or the first year beginners) was going to be finished by the end of May, which means we would only have had one month of lessons with the group, and then after the summer, we would be able to continue with the Silver course (the second year course), which would run for another 6-7 months or so.

So, after only being charged €39 for the first month of lessons, we were rather shocked at the prices they now quoted. For the rest of the Bronze course in May, they quoted us €105 per person, and €240 per person for the Silver course. That would mean that we would have to come up with €700 to carry on dancing. At first we thought we would think about it.

The second week of dancing arrived, and Claudia had caught a cold and was too sick to dance, so I figured I would go alone to the class, so that at least we would not miss it entirely.

I spent almost the entirety of that lesson dancing by myself. with no partner at all, despite the fact that the dance instructor, and the owner of the dance school were both there. To be fair, the owner did dance with me twice during the lesson – for a total of about 5 minutes out of a 90 minute lesson), but she spent the rest of the time standing by the side chatting to her husband.

Now, as a client, who is being asked to fork out enough money to pay for 3 months worth of groceries, I would expect much more from her, so this incident swayed my wavering mind to not be interested in continuing once our lessons were up.

The following week, I didn’t feel so well, so we decided not to go. This prompted a mail from them saying they really hope we will make the last lesson, since the class is so small, which in my mind makes very little sense at all – all that meant is that the other couple managed to get a private lesson, so I am sure they were happy, and we had paid for these lessons whether we attended them or not, so the school had nothing to complain about.

Anyway, something came up on the last week as well, and so we gave that one a miss too, but we didn’t care too much. The desire to dance there had completely gone.

The aftermath
We then got another mail asking us if we want to continue with the Bronze course, and we replied back saying that we felt that it was too expensive for us, but that we would come in to pay the € 2 we still owed them.

Their reply to this was not very friendly at all. They maintained that the fees are not unreasonable and that we would not get it cheaper anywhere else.

Well, the fact of the matter remains, even if the fees are not expensive compared to other schools, for us, who are on a rather tight budget, it is an extravagent luxury which we cannot easily afford.

If they had not been so pushy trying to get us to join, or given us better service, such as on the second lesson, then there may have been a chance that we would have been willing to consider it, but they blew that chance.

We also were not very happy about the fact that they advertised a really low price for the introductory lessons, while refusing to give us the full prices, despite me asking for them explicitly, and then once we have started hit us with fees far, far above the price we initially paid.

Well, now the lessons are over, and as soon as I get to town, I will drop of their €2 (which they have also been pestering me about in each email they send), and then us and De Happening will part ways forever.

The lesson
So, for any future people who would like to get any of my hard-earned money, what lessons can be learned from this?

  • If I want pricing info upfront, please give it to me
  • Don’t give a really cheap offer to bait me, and then come out with an exhorbitant price later
  • When wanting me to spend a lot of money, do everything you can to put me into a good frame of mind
  • Don’t pester me continually to sign up for something I am thinking about
  • Don’t get upset when I tell you I think you are too expensive for my budget