My friend's small business agreed to a one-month risk-free trial service from one Credit Card Processor company. However, she did not like the service, because it did not live up to verbal promises made by sales person - monthly processing fees actually increased with them compared to the previous processor company. And now this credit card processor company auto-charged her $840 as ETF (Early Termination Fee) even though she gave them a notice within one month that she does not want to continue service with them once the trial is over.
My friend does not have written contract - either nothing was signed on a paper at the time of signing up for service or they did not leave her a copy of written contract. I actually would not be surprised that there is no written contract in the first place, because other their customers are complaining about exactly the same issue on Better Business Bureau and YP websites that they don't have "written contract". This company also is not sending us a copy of contract - they simply told us that they don't have a file with us and hanged up the phone. However, I have to admit that this would be bold and dumb move by this company to practice such fraud if they really don't have a written contract.
My goal is to help my friend to dispute this $840 ETF (Early Termination Fee), because to me this seems like a typical fraud scheme where:
- sales person over promises that service will be better than the current one.
- once victim realizes that service is worse, she (or he) tries to terminate it within this 1 month trial period.
- then credit card processor company charges Early Termination Fee of $840 which is ridiculous.
My concern is that I don't have a copy of written contract and I actually don't know if one exists in the first place so I have to gather evidence via other sources.
If this case would go to court where we have to prove that this company is practicing fraud, what would judge consider as "Compelling Evidence" to waive the ETF and void the written contract, if there really is one?
Since I don't have much experience with Court I am not sure what evidence judge would consider as compelling enough:
- If I would manage to get other mistreated customers to testify?
- If I would manage to record a phone call with their customer service representative where he would admit that service was actually free for a month? They don't seem very professional and I thought to try this out, but how can I prove authenticity of this call to the judge?
- If I would get in touch with one of their ex-employees and try to get them to confess at court?
Any other ideas what could be done here?