So I found a little "school" here in our new city that works as a sort of broker between private students and English teachers. It seemed good at first; I met with the owner over Skype and later in person.
I've since discovered that it's just a one-man show, that this owner is a fellow foreigner (who doesn't speak English) running an "English school" out of his apartment. (He tried to avoid telling me this part, which made it very hard when I was trying to find his office building but should have been looking for an apartment.) The guy is totally dishonest and sneaky and all-around not a good guy.
I won't go into the whole story, but the point is that he's a cheap bastard and that he has lied to me about a lot of things.
He makes students buy books from a series that he heard about (he has no teaching experience or training), but he won't provide the teachers with copies of the books. He says, and I quote, that "books for teachers are a waste of money." He said if I wanted to have a copy of the book, that I would have to buy it myself or download the PDF illegally and carry my laptop around with me to my classes. He also provides no support material but expects us to plan extra activities for 66% of the class time (saying the book can only be used for 30% of the class, to make the class more "dynamic:" One of those words people love to use when they don't know anything about teaching.)
He told me the students were paying much less than they actually were to justify paying me so little. He said I needed to go to a student's house and that she couldn't come to me, even though it was a really out-of-the-way bus ride for me that ended up taking almost 90 minutes door to door. Turns out the student works seriously 5 minutes away from my apartment and wanted to come to me, but he lied to her about where I lived so that he could charge her more for classes at home (while paying me the same). He actually thought she and I wouldn't talk about these things?
When I informed him that the student and I talked and that she would be coming to my house instead, he got very upset and insisted on having a "meeting" over Skype. This meeting was just him lecturing me on all these excuses on why I need to let him negotiate all scheduling information with the student and why I shouldn't talk about ANYTHING with the student except English. (This is really his attempt at not getting caught in any of his many lies, and it was obvious that what he was most pissed about was that the student would be paying less and it would be coming out of his cut and he couldn't do anything about it.)
He then informed me that he had some new rules: students could have unlimited make-up classes, and also, if a student decided to cancel a class without a reposição (why would they do that if they can have a make-up class?), I wouldn't get paid. His logic? "Oh, well I should keep the money for their canceled classes, because I'm the one who has to deal with all the administration stuff." Nope, sorry buddy. The conversation actually got pretty heated, mostly because he thinks I'm an idiot and I'm not. He kept talking himself in circles and not answering my questions. He tried to scare me, tried to say I would never get students if I were as strict as that, tried to bluff that students wouldn't accept limits on reposições, etc. The truth is that students DON'T get to cancel classes, but he tells me they do so that he can pocket the money.
He said that he had a new student who wanted classes with me, but that he doubted the guy would accept my terms (24 hours' notice to change a class and only one class a month can be changed -- the guy was only going to have 1 hour a week!). Well, this owner guy had to put his tail between his legs a bit when the student accepted my terms and still wanted classes with me.
The problem? I don't want to be involved with this shady guy anymore. I'm a little worried that I'm being too picky, that I'm too new in town to be turning down students, but it really comes down to cost-benefit. This guy requires so much paperwork for the students, so many "meetings" on Skype, and he's dishonest as all get out. It's really not worth the pennies he's paying me per hour.
I would love to be able to work with anyone; I would love to accept every student that calls, but you gotta know when to fold 'em. My instinct is telling me, "run, run away!" so that's what I'm going to do.
I will also, of course, steal away my current student from him if she wants. It'll be my little payback for all his douchebaggery.