Loan sharks are guppies compared to LADCO Leasing (parent company: Elavon). This company leases credit card processing equipment to business owners via non-cancellable multiple-year contracts.
Ladco claims to be just a financing company and distances itself from the sales people who sell the processing equipment. However, Ladco is at the very least complicit in the scheme to lure small business owners into signing four- and five-year agreements to LEASE equipment for thousands of dollars when the same equipment could be purchased outright for well under $300.
My story is the same as hundreds of others I have read here and elsewhere on the internet. I had been in business for under a year when Chris Yokley, a charming sales rep from Advocate Merchant Solutions, came into my Decatur, IL coffee shop to "save me money on credit card processing." He was personable, caring, sincere, etc., etc. He came back several times and built up a relationship. He sounded convincing. He was a champion for small business. He could offer me significanly lower rates and fees on my credit card processing by "pooling" small business together to give us the same clout as the big box stores.
After several visits, his persistence wore me down. He whipped out his Ipad and told me to sign "here, here, and here" -- all the while ensuring me that I was going to save big money. I was never told I was entering into a four-year lease. I was never told I was going to pay thousands of dollars for equipment. I was told over and over again that I was going to SAVE money. He was so convincingly sincere that I even gave him several referrals, including my daughter's salon (which he proceeded to rip off as well).
Yokley delivered a credit card processing machine and told me he would come back later to set it up. I waited. He didn't come. I called. He said he was having trouble switching my gift card program to the new system. I kept calling. He stopped in a few times with more apologies and more promises. Then he stopped coming -- and the bills started coming.
I received several monthly statements with fees for credit card processing from Advocate totaling nearly $300, yet they had NEVER PROCESSED A SINGLE TRANSACTION. My processor was still sitting in its box. After months of complaining, Advocate eventually refunded my processing fees and closed my account. However, this mysterious charge from Ladco kept coming out of my bank account for $58.06 each month. I attempted to resolve this with Advocate - they said call Ladco. I did and Ladco did nothing.
After 16 months, debits totalling nearly $900 had come out of my account. I stopped payment on Ladco two months ago. Within a week, the harassment started. First it was a phone call, then came a deluge of letters, then more phone calls. Before I had even missed my second payment, the collection agency started calling. They called my home. They called my work. They sent me letters. They emailed me. When I told them to cease calling me at work, they persisted.
Tonight was the last straw. A "private investigator" from California called my shop and left a message with my employee to call regarding case number 4###3. I hoped it was someone INVESTIGATING Ladco, since California had recently fined Ladco over $400,000 for deceptive practices. However, it was actually a private investigator for Ladco -- in yet another attempt to coerce me into a settlement offer.
Ladco is now pursuing me for over $2,600 for a LEASE on a credit card processing machine that SELLS for as little as $179. Mind you, I have already paid Ladco $889.90 for a machine that has NEVER BEEN OUT OF THE BOX. If I paid off the contract, the total payments for the 48-month lease at $58.06 would be "only" $2,7876.88.
Granted, I was stupid for signing anything without reading it word-for-word. But I am not stupid enough to willingly sign a 48-month lease to rent a piece of equipment that could be purchased for next to nothing. Yokley did not disclose the terms of the lease to me. This seems to be the basis for many of the complaints against Ladco and the agents that finance through them.
Ladco's actions are predatory and are aimed at small business owners that have neither the time, money, nor energy to fight back. First they lure small businesses into their trap and then they intimidate and harass them into continuing with their usurious contracts.
I refuse to accept Ladco's settlement offer - or to put up with their harassment. I am filing a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau, and the FTC for the collection calls that persist after written notice was given to cease calling me at work. I would love to find other injured parties to join with me in suing Ladco. California opened the door. It is time for other states to follow through and put these predators out of business.