Curves is Franchisor of Year? Say What?

That wacky AAFD is at it again!  The American Association of Franchisees & Dealers (AAFD) has named Curves International its 2009 Franchisor of the Year!

(In other news, Bernard Madoff has been named Investment Advisor of the Year and Kim Jong Il has won the Nobel Peace Prize…)

You may remember the AAFD as the supposedly pro-franchisee organization that gave Cuppy’s Coffee the “fair franchising” award and public praise it needed to help scam many more out of $30K – $40K deposits before completely abandoning the lucky franchisees who managed to get open (and lose hundreds of thousands).

According to the breaking story on Unhappy Franchisee, (CURVES: AAFD Names Curves Franchisor of the Year), the AAFD awards will be presented at the Total Quality Franchising Awards Banquet on Thursday, April 30, 2009, during AAFD’s 17th Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Why is Curves the AAFD Total Quality Franchising Franchisor of the Year?

I could not find the release explaining why the AAFD chose Curves, out of all the franchisors in the country, as the Total Qualitiest Franchis-i-rific franchisor of them all, so I’ll have to guess.

Because Curves is being sued by so many franchisees?

Because Curves has one of the highest SBA loan failure rates in the nation? (See QUIZNOS, COLD STONE, SUBWAY & CURVES TOP FRANCHISE LOAN DEFAULTS)

Because Curves International forbids even failed franchisees from selling the equipment they paid for?

Because the mention of Curves has prompted more than 1000 comments, mostly unhappy? (Read: Is Curves for Women a Good Franchise Investment? )

Or because Curves charges their failed franchisees a $10,000 “failure fee,” then allegedly hounds them for tens of thousands of dollars even after they’re bankrupt?

Has the AAFD read the comments left here and on UnhappyFranchisee about Curves charging failed and failing franchisees? Here are a few.

CA ex-owner wrote:

We closed our club in August. Curves demanded $10,000. We refused and they lowered it several times (down to $6,000) and we still refused.

Next legal sent us a letter demanding over $42,000 for future franchise fees and future advertising.

Betty Priest wrote:

I closed my Curves Dec. 30, 2009. Curves reduced the closing fee to $3000 and then in Jan. they reduced it to $2000. I told them I did not have the money to pay them. I not working and I had surgery on Jan. 19. I now have received a legal paper from them that I have to pay them over $28000 in franchise fee and advertising fees.

Melissa wrote:

I am evidently getting ready to face my real nightmares, concerning my closing of my Curves. I am at the threat stage with them and have not agreed to any amount yet. Mostly because I have nothing left. I am closing in two weeks. I gave it all of my money and my best shot the past six years.

…I am hearing they will still sue me even if we agree to an amount. I wish I had some answers, even though I have no money left to give anyone. I really don’t know what to do next….

How can they hurt so many people financially and get away with it? All we wanted was to work hard and make a decent living, totally impossible with two clubs in our area!! We haven’t even broken even in three years.

Carrie wrote:

…I am now down to $2,500 to settle the closing of my Curves. I do not have the money to send them and if I did I do not want to give them one more penny. I am $85,000 in debt which I will be paying on until I’m very old (hopefully I live!)

Sheila wrote:

I am in the same boat as the rest of you! They are doing the same thing with us.. we closed this past Wednesday… we have been open 4 1/2 years and just can’t do it anymore.. all of our credit cards are maxed to the limits and we did our best..

…I’m so sick of their fees and you owe us this and that.. like everyone here has said Howard is supposed to be a Christian? Why doesn’t he understand that peoples lives are getting ruined by his fees? Haven’t we had enough punishment when we have sacrificed so much? The economy should be telling him something when the franchisees and members are dropping like flies! We just got the paper saying we owe them the 10K.. we are right along with the rest of you.. if I had 10K don’t you think I’d be in business right now?

…what really makes me mad is they get their money.. now popcorn sales, cereal sales, curves bars etc and we are all suffering.. I haven’t had a paycheck in 2 years.. I did my best.. I gave my all.. and now to find out you want 10K? Are these people for real? I will never ever in my life own nor participate in any franchise ever again.. thanks Howard for teaching us that the hard way…

These and other comments can be found on the post: CURVES: Robert Lay’s Story

A complete list of Curves-related posts are here: CURVES: Franchise Overview & Links

Perhaps Curves has made some progress in the past year, and the AAFD wants to reward them.  Or perhaps Curves wrote them a big check to help offset the negative comments being left here and elsewhere.  If you have any idea how they’re justifying this award, please share it below.

Some AAFD-related posts:

AAFD Award Caffeinates Growth of Cuppy’s Coffee Franchise

AAFD: Franchising Watchdog… or Lapdog? Part 1

AAFD: Franchising Watchog… or Lapdog? Part 2

Franchise Buyers: Don’t Get Fooled by Fair Franchising Awards

Answer This Franchise Due Diligence Quiz Question

Cuppy’s Coffee: Some Words from AAFD Raises More Questions