RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Times are tough not only for consumers but also for small businesses. Every penny counts and if you think you are entering a great deal - make sure you read anything you sign.
A local small business owner says he found this out the hard way. He called NBC12 and we investigated.
Bob Babb, owner of Zeroes Subs in Midlothian will be the first tell you -- running a small business isn't easy.
"I started in a tough time and you try to look for ever dollar you can save," he said. When a sales rep told him he could save money on his credit card processing he wanted to hear more.
"He showed me my old rates and my new rate and it looked good," he said. Once the machine was hooked up, Babb says it didn't work properly. He got a new machine and a new service provider.
"This machine has cost me more sleepless nights than anything I have had in the three years I have been in business," he said. He eventually called to cancel the service. It was all trouble from there. He thought he purchased the machine from Summit Merchant Solutions.
Canceling the service was not a problem -- getting rid of the machine was the headache.He was told he had signed a five year non-cancelable lease with a second company -- called Lease finance group. That was the shocker -- he thought he was dealing with just Summit. Now, he claims a nearly $300 machine -- would cost about $7,000.
Babb told us, "It says non cancelable lease but they don't want you to see that, so they go over there and they cover it up and he says I have already filled all of this out."
We did some research -- the Better Business Bureau says both Summit and LFG have a number of complaints against them and both have "F" ratings.
Gray asked, "For those folks who say you know what, you signed it, you should have read it. What would you say to those people or even the company that says he signed it, he should have read it? What would you say to them?" Bob says, "I signed it and I should have read it."
We contacted both LFG and Summit for answers, Summit -- never returned our numerous calls or emails. LFG did respond. When it comes to Babb, the company says it is suing for breech of contract. It says, "The merchant signed a valid, two-page non-cancelable lease agreement with lease finance group. his signature or initials appear on both pages of the lease."
As for the hundreds of other complaints filed with the BBB, LFG says, "Lease finance group provides financing for hundreds of thousands of leases. Inevitably, there will be occasional merchant complaints in a business of this size, justified or otherwise. The number of complaints represents less than two percent of our total volume. We move as quickly as possible to resolve any issues related to lease agreements."
Babb hired an attorney and says, "I still get phone calls, I get phone calls at home, I get phone calls here, I get phone calls on my cell phone, I get threatening letters."
Consumer advocates say -- it's about business -- not a friendship. Read everything before you sign a contract. If you feel you've been scammed, ripped off or have a consumer issue you want us to investigate, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.