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Old 14th Dec 2009, 21:08   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: California
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How to avoid school tricks

Hi guys......,

I have seen so many of my friends facing big problems and disappointment concerning their training and getting so frustrated with their school that i have thought that it would be nice to recap in this forum the small tricks that schools are using to catch us.
Even if most of the times this small tricks have not tough consequences, i have seen some of my friends loosing their hopes and dollars,,

Concerning my self i have been very lucky with my final choice at Career Pilot School... but before Career Pilot School I was in one of the very popular and packed flight school in Atwater,CA,now this school is bankrupted and for me it has been a real disaster

here is what are for me the biggest traps to avoid-

- Think twice before you chose very low price program, it is Pilot training not Car Driving....I have not seen any of my friends able to finish a zero to CPL program for less than $45,000 when it was advertised for $35,000 and sometimes even for less

- another common thing is that schools have more students than their capacity , the result is that i have seen some of my friends staying days and days,,,,weeks and weeks without flying because they were no aircraft available for that..


Please now for those who have some advice please share it with us but lets not make this thread as an advertisement for flight school..try not to come up with flight schools names...

thanks
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Old 14th Dec 2009, 23:34   #2 (permalink)
 
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Great post. The bait and switch is one of the oldest tricks in the books! Get your students to the school and then add on a fee for this and a fee for that. And when the student goes over on their times (and they will, right? because the school told them it takes everyone only 36.5 hours to get their PPL!), they charge a higher retail price to continue.

Do your due diligence in this industry and you will be rewarded. Jump at the first flight school you see that professes a connection to an airline and......well, it just won't work out in the end!
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Old 14th Dec 2009, 23:35   #3 (permalink)
 
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Don't put money down. Pay as you go. If they offer you a juicy discount to pay up-front, don't put money down. You can't lose what they haven't got, and if they are worrying that much about cash up front then they probably have financial problems, so don't put money down.

I confess, my vehemence is personal. I lost a little when a school went down, but I was lucky, by pure chance of timing I was nearly finished, and it was actually close to the amount I had saved by putting money up front, so I came out evens. I know many who lost a lot, nearly 20,000 in one case. I should not have paid upfront.

Otherwise the good schools are pretty straightforward, at least in the UK. If you suspect anything tricky then sort it out with the school or walk out of the door! Yes variations in student flow mean sometimes even a good school is over subscribed, but if it gets really bad, talk to the Chief Flying Instructor, if that is no good speak to the Head of Training. If it persists be prepared to go elsewhere, it might cost more in brush-up training, but not as much as an interrupted course, which also might prevent you getting that important first-time IRT pass.

Oh, did I say? Don't put money down!
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 00:47   #4 (permalink)
 
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I think the key is not putting TOO much money up front. You have to look at both sides:

1) If the flight school doesn't get any money up front, the student could easily run up thousands of dollars FAST and then leave. (I have seen it happen!)

or

2) If the student gives it ALL up front, what happens if the flight school goes out of business. (We have ALL seen this happen!)

At most schools, you have to put some money down up front. But don't put $100,000 down!
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 00:52   #5 (permalink)
 
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Ideal is to pay after every flight, although even before each flight is fine. Either way neither can lose a significant sum. There are schools that run like that by their choice, with the student paying for each day's flying at the end of the day (or beginning of the next if the last flight lands late).
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 03:16   #6 (permalink)
 
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As someone who has run a small flight school and a large flight school, here is some perspective:

1) Small school: Easy to do. Easy to manage amount of students. Easy to manage CFI's. Easy to oversee flight time. Less payments to have to worry about per day.

2) Large school: Can you imagine processing 100 student payments in one day? On top of that, if students use credit cards, there is a charge per swipe. So that raises costs for students.

Bottom line is this: Get a contract. If there is a contract, you have legal standing in a court of law. You wouldn't hand a person on the street a bag of money, right? So before handing over a large amount to a flight school, get something in writing.
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 06:37   #7 (permalink)

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Quote:
On top of that, if students use credit cards, there is a charge per swipe. So that raises costs for students.
Not in the UK there isn't - the merchant fee is a percentage of the takings, usually around 2% (unless it's American Express where it's about 4-5%). So it doesn't matter whether you pay after every flight, pay up front or in arrears, the card fees will be the same.

And it's stil cheaper than processing cash or cheques.

Quote:
Can you imagine processing 100 student payments in one day?
Whether the student pays in advance or arrears, you've still got to the process the invoices and payments so this is irrelevant (unless your accounts department were in a mess). You have to keep a record of where the student's account is.

Quote:
If there is a contract, you have legal standing in a court of law.
Not if the school goes bust; no legal standing whatsoever.

Cheers

Whirls
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 08:30   #8 (permalink)
 
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Michael

Then the large school needs more staff, paid for by the larger number of students! Three times the number of students you probably only need twice the admin staff, but whatever the numbers it is no harder with a large school than a small one. After all a single staff member in a supermarket probably takes 100 payments on a shift.
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 10:47   #9 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Quote:
On top of that, if students use credit cards, there is a charge per swipe. So that raises costs for students.
Not in the UK there isn't - the merchant fee is a percentage of the takings, usually around 2% (unless it's American Express where it's about 4-5%). So it doesn't matter whether you pay after every flight, pay up front or in arrears, the card fees will be the same.
There are transaction charges in the UK - it depends on your setup with your bank. I have a PDQ machine here and there's a transaction charge for each payment you take. It's a flat 20p for Maestro/Switch, but a percentage for credit cards.

The percentage is based on volume - the lower the volume, the higher the percentage - but it averages between 1.3 and 3% ish per swipe, sometimes with a mandatory 10p (so X pence + 2% etc isn't uncommon).


You can bypass the transaction fees and have a lower fee applied across the board, but that usually means bureauing to the bank, and you may have to wait 2-4 weeks for the money to come back, which may case cashflow issues in a tightly financed business.
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 11:00   #10 (permalink)

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Sadly, the smaller the business, the higher their marginal card processing costs. But I reckon you could try renegotiating that deal ....

Cheers

Whirls
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 13:01   #11 (permalink)
 
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Whirlygig:

I am talking just about the US. You do have some standing if there was a contract in place. But you are right. If the business closes it's doors overnight, takes the money, and the owner goes into hiding, there isn't much that can happen. That is exactly what Silver State Helicopters and Jet University (and about 50 others in the US) did. But there are hundreds of other schools that are ethical and will make good on their promise.

Michael
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 13:13   #12 (permalink)
 
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No one mentioned paying by credit card.

Paying by credit card gives more protection that paying by cash - if a company goes under or you were charged with what you think is unfair - the card has liability so will attempt to recover the funds.
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Old 15th Dec 2009, 22:11   #13 (permalink)
 
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I think I may have derailed this thread a bit. To get back on the topic, maybe Agnni can tell us more or even tell us his or her story. I might be reading between the lines, but it looks like he or she has had some experience with a few different schools.

Michael
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Old 22nd Dec 2009, 22:08   #14 (permalink)
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DO NOT PAY MORE THAN $2500 UP FRONT TO ANY FLIGHT SCHOOL FOR ANYTHING. NO MATTER HOW GOOD THEY MAKE IT SOUND, NO MATTER WHAT DISCOUNT THEY OFFER--DON'T DO IT!!!!

Never let any flight school get more than $2500 ahead of you for any reason.

If you will simply follow this advice then the scammers in this industry will be out of business.

A contract does not protect you if the school does not have the resources (money) to honor that contract. A 100% guarantee is not worth the paper it is printed on in the flight school business.

Over 100 MILLION DOLLARS has been lost by students in the State of Florida over the past 8 years to flight schools that have collected money up front and have not delivered what was written in the contract.

Don't be another victim. If the flight school wants money up front then run away. The newest scam is collecting large amounts up front for time building. Don't do it!
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Old 22nd Dec 2009, 22:10   #15 (permalink)
 
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You obviously went to Jet U. Having toured their facilities a while ago, I was amazed they stayed open so long! The most top heavy organization I have ever seen. There were tons of high management people.

What else did you learn from your Jet U experience?
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Old 22nd Dec 2009, 22:12   #16 (permalink)
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For those worried about transaction fees on credit cards it is really a non issue that amounts to peanuts. The transaction fee on credit cards is around 30 cents per swipe plus the percentage.

If a student has 30 swipes for $1500 each that is a grand total of $9.00 in transactions fees on $45,000 in flight school training.

Total non issue except if you are one of the schools that wants to scam.
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Old 22nd Dec 2009, 22:21   #17 (permalink)
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Michael,

The Jet University students have a student website that details the horror that the students went through at Jet University.

If you google jet university you will find it. The website has been left up by the students and former employees to help others considering flight training know what to look out for. I wish a website like this was available prior to enrolling at Jet University.

With that being said, the training was actually quite good. 180 students went through Jet University.
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Old 22nd Dec 2009, 22:22   #18 (permalink)
 
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I beg to differ on the swipes. It can add up to be a pretty large total when you factor in a 3-5% per swipe charge!
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Old 22nd Dec 2009, 22:49   #19 (permalink)
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Michael,

I happen to be in the credit card processing business. If you are paying more than 3% discount fees and more than 30 cents transaction fee then you are paying too much.

Keep in mind that the discount rate and the transaction fee are based on the business owners personal credit. Those with good credit get a better rate.

In the example of $45,000 in flight school charges the 3% credit card fee would be $1350.00 no matter how many swipes you have. The transaction fees will be 30 cents per swipe. Even if you had 100 swipes to get the $45,000 the transaction fee will only be $30.
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Old 22nd Dec 2009, 23:00   #20 (permalink)
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Michael,

The management at Jet U was not really top heavy. Heath and Mark ran the place. Trevor was brought in to be CEO and was really nothing more than a figure head. That's three guys and I don't see how you could do it with much less.

There was a chief pilot and assistant that ran the flight school side of things.

There were two administrative assistants. One of those answered the phone and the other worked with the accounting and finances.

It wasn't the top heavy management--it was the management by deception that got them into trouble.

A number of people have said that Jet University was a great idea--it just had the wrong people running it. I tend to agree with that statement.
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