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Old 01-27-2004, 10:30 AM   #1
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Come Hell or High must pay

I think this belongs in this forum, if not, Mods go ahead and move it to wherever it belongs.

Doug Grow
Star Tribune
Published 01/27/2004

No camera, but he gets the picture-

Poor Wells Fargo. In a bloody drama that's unfolding in New York courts, the big bank could be portrayed as coldly crushing innocent small businesses owners.

But the big bank points out that it's merely doing its job of protecting investors.

David Dennison, owner of a small video production company in Delano, is among those on the verge of being crushed in the name of investor protection.

Last month, he received a summons from New York courts. It informed Dennison that Wells Fargo lawyers are claiming that he owes $66,468 for a video camera he never received.

In what has the smell of a legal pyramid scheme, Dennison supposedly owes the money to something called Terminal Finance Corp. II, which was born of a company, Terminal Marketing, that cheated Dennison three years ago.

Wells Fargo has clean hands, of course.

It's merely acting as the trustee of the investors of Terminal Finance Corp. II. As of Monday, Wells Fargo wasn't naming the Terminal Finance investors.

When the summons arrived in Delano, Dennison, who owns David and David Productions, assumed that it was just a little mixup.

"I thought I could make a call and nip things in the bud," he said. "I've been a customer of theirs. I thought a little conversation would make everything clear."

Wells Fargo wasn't interested in talk. It didn't care whether he'd ever received a camera. It cared only about its "investors."

Dennison has been forced to hire an attorney in New York, and he faces an uphill battle in court.

The stakes couldn't be higher.

"If I lose in court, I lose my business," he said.

It appears that Wells Fargo has established a cottage industry in dealing with people in Dennison's predicament.

To date, it has filed scores of suits on behalf of the unknown investors of Terminal Finance Corp. II against companies with one thing in common: They once tried to lease equipment from a New York company, Terminal Marketing. Most of the suits are for much more money than what Wells Fargo says Dennison owes. Millions of dollars likely are at stake.

Here's how Dennison got on the wrong side of Wells Fargo:

In April 1999, he left his job as a photojournalist at KARE-TV, and set up his own production company. He leased one camera with an option to buy.

Business was so brisk that in December 2000, Dennison decided he needed a second camera. He agreed to lease from Terminal Marketing. After completing the paperwork Dennison sent the company a check for $2,940.98, which was to represent his first and last payments. He never got the camera.

After waiting a few months, Dennison learned that Sony, the camera manufacturer, no longer was dealing with Terminal Marketing. Dennison's attorney notified Terminal Marketing that their lease had been breached and that Dennison was owed $2,940.98.

There was no response from Terminal Marketing.

Dennison, who still needed a second camera, found another company to lease from.

Three years passed. Dennison's company was surviving, despite a sluggish economy. Then, came the summons.

Something called Terminal Finance Corp. II had secured the assets (those worthless leases) of Terminal Marketing. The unknown investors of Terminal Finance II sought out Wells Fargo to act as a trustee, according to a Wells Fargo spokesperson.

Dennison's attorney, Mike Conway, said it's pretty clear that Terminal Marketing was running a scam; that the company owner sold leases and then disappeared with the cash.

The problem for people like Dennison is that the Terminal Marketing leases were written in such a way as to meet New York's "come hell or high-water standard." That appears to mean whoever signs a lease owes money to whoever holds the lease no matter if services were delivered or not.

"The hell or high-water standard is supposed to protect the unknowing victim," said Conway. "It's not supposed to protect somebody who goes out and gets a thousand leases and assigns them over to Wells Fargo."

But, of course, Wells Fargo presents itself as the noble defender of investors in all of this.

What of people like Dennison?

The bank's responsibility is to the investors of Terminal Finance, a spokeswoman said.

Despite his difficult circumstances, Dennison manages to keep a sense of humor.

Since Wells Fargo represents Terminal Finance, which holds the Terminal Marketing leases, Dennison thinks maybe the bank should pay him the $2,940.98 he's owed by Terminal Marketing.

So far, no response to his request.

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Old 01-27-2004, 09:08 PM   #2
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I guess this article is too long to read and comment on. In a nut shell this guy put a $2900 deposit down on a camera lease. He never got the camera and now Wells Fargo says he owes over $60,000 in lease payments. A New York law says he must pay. Why would a law do this?

I just was wondering what you guys would think about this.

Oh well.

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Old 01-27-2004, 09:33 PM   #3
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Oh I understand completely...this happened to us with a lease on a copy machine. It wasn't near that amount of money but just as frustrating. Due to financial problems, we ended our lease a year early and the leasing company was totally fine with it. They came out, picked up the copier and we signed documents ending our commitment to them.

A year later, we received notice from a new finance company stating that they had purchased the leases from the previous company and we now owed them the balance of the lease. We tried explaining that we turned the copier back 12 months ago and ended our contract but they demanded payment, saying the old company had no right to terminate the lease.

It took several months to straighten it out and they kept threatening us with legal action and from what I understand, they could have forced us to pay, despite our previous agreement with the other company.

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