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Call Kurtis: Charity Charged $16K In Fees After Renting Credit Card Machines

The Sacramento Valley's Susan G. Komen For The Cure organization was hit with $16,628 in surprising charges after renting credit card machines. The non-profit called Kurtis when they couldn't get their money back.

CBS13 found they're not the only ones to face hefty fees from this rental company.

"I just remember looking at it and thinking, 'This is the most absurd invoice I've ever seen in my life,'" said events manager Silvia Ramirez.

Ramirez says she was in shock over her dealings with

"They were so nice to us in the beginning," said Ramirez.

In May, Susan G. Komen paid $760 to rent eight credit card machines to take payments and donations at their annual Race For The Cure. But after returning the machines, Credit Card Machine Rentals dipped into the non-profit's bank account and took out a big chunk of money.

An invoice sent after the fact lays out the charges: $480 to clean the machines, $305 in repair costs, $93 for shipping, and a whopping $15,750 for "days in repair." The grand total was $16,628.

"These costs are ridiculous. You know, you're charging us $2,600 to repair one machine when on the contract it clearly states that one machine is valued at $1,100. That doesn't make sense," said Ramirez.

And Ramirez is sure they sent the machines back in the same condition they received them - clean and working.

David Long of Gold River rented a machine from the same company to take payments at Rio Americano's 40th high school reunion.

"The charges are crazy," said Long.

After returning it, he was hit with $4,250 late fees, and cleaning and packaging charges.

"The first reaction is something's wrong. And then when you call them and they say they're going to look into it, and nothing happens, you realize, 'I was the guy that just got pick-pocketed,'" said Long.

Long says he was told he had 30 days to return the machine, but his rental contract says he must have it back to the company in Utah just two days after his event.

"So the company might win on that point, but the charges that they're claiming are outrageous," said Brian Slocum, a McGeorge School of Law professor.

Slocum says Credit Card Machine Rentals has an obligation to prove the returned machines were broken and dirty in Susan G. Komen's case. But they also need to prove they lost revenue by having the machines out of service for repairs and by being late in Long's case.

"Is this business operating at such a high level that they're immediately going to rent these machines out to other people? I don't know," said Slocum.

We contacted Credit Card Machine Rentals. They gave us repair invoices and pictures for what they claim are for Susan G. Komen's repairs. But they didn't have pictures to prove each machine was dirty enough to require a $60 apiece cleaning charge.

When it comes to Long's situation, they say they tell customers about the two-day return period and they "...made numerous attempts to contact him to remind him to return the equipment."

Long denies that.

"It's egregious behavior," he said.

Both he and Susan G. Komen are out the cash and considering their next moves.

"I just feel very passionate about this and I don't feel like I'm going to stop here," said Ramirez.

Credit Card Machine Rentals told us they were working with Susan G. Komen to lower their bill, but so far it hasn't happened.

Long is trying to fight the charges with the help of his credit card company.

Credit Card Machine Rentals statement to CBS13:

At Credit Card Machine Rentals, we value our customers and make every effort to resolve customer concerns. We are sorry to hear that three of our clients were dissatisfied and would like to respond to their concerns. In such situations, we believe complete transparency is important to come to an understanding of the events in question.

We have had enormous success is providing the necessary tools for thousands of our clients who process credit card payments. We believe we offer a value in the market and have a stellar record in customer support and service. We also believe the extremely high volume of repeat business is an indicator of our clients' satisfaction and desire to build long term relationships with us as a trusted vendor.

We first respond to your question regarding the Better Business Bureau. From visiting their website we found 6 complaints about our company spanning the past 12 months. This represents less than 1/10th of 1 percent of our customers during that period of time. While we take any complaint seriously, it is important to consider their context.

I have not personally received any communication from the Better Business Bureau. I will be in contact with their Salt Lake City office this week to find out more details and see what, if any, response is necessary. Thank you for bringing this to my attention and I will report back to you on what I find.

We next respond to your question concerning our practice of repairing machinery rather than simply replacing it. Our company rents credit card processing equipment. We have no source of revenue outside of the rental fees paid by our clients. We do not process credit card payments and we do not take a percentage from the transactions made during the rental period.

We wish the solution were as simple as ordering replacement machines from an online source; however, our business is more sophisticated. Each machine is programmed with proprietary coding and includes SIM cards and other customizations that increase functionality, reliability and have helped us develop a strong reputation. It also increases their value.

It is vital to our success as a company that the machinery be sent to our clients in proper working order and it is equally important that it be returned in the same working condition. As such, none of the clients in question have issued any concern about the equipment arriving fully functional and on-time. They have not expressed frustration about the rental fee or the reliability of our product. Their concerns do not suggest that our company somehow failed to perform the services for which we were contracted.

Our greatest operational losses come from clients returning machinery that is damaged or that is late; or in a worst case scenario, not returning the equipment at all. Outside of our employees, our inventory of working machinery is our most valued asset. In the case of damaged machinery we incur repair and replacement costs, we may lose clients to competitors, lose client referrals, and revenue from unfulfilled orders. The operational losses are frustrating and when our client is at fault we believe it fair for those costs to be reimbursed.

Before our clients rent our equipment they must agree to our rental contract (please see attached). The contract protects each party and helps alleviate any confusion. It is a very transparent and open agreement void of any "fine print."

I consider it a testament to the quality of our business and the responsible nature of our clients that it is very infrequent that I have had to exercise the terms of our contract regarding late or damaged equipment. Said more succulently, I don't have to deal with this very often.

David Long
Mr. David Long contacted our company about an upcoming high school reunion and was in needed of a terminal for October 6, 2012. Our product is tailored to this kind of event and Mr. Long signed a contract with us on August 11, 2012 (attached).

The contract Mr. Long signed states:

"At the end of the Term or upon earlier termination of this Agreement, the Lessee will return the Equipment at the Lessee's cost, expense and risk to the Lessor by delivering the Equipment, either through hand delivery or through the use of a commercial carrier, to 654 N 800 E #426 Spanish Fork UT 84660. Said Equipment shall be returned and received by the Lessor no later than the end of the second business day following the end of the Term .

We would never agree to allow a client to keep our equipment for 30 days without paying for its rental. I have personally investigated the matter and am satisfied that Mr. Long was aware of his responsibility to return the equipment on time. Besides the terms of the contract Mr. Long signed, our company made numerous attempts to contact him to remind him to return the equipment. The only response we received was the return of the equipment nearly a month after the date of his event.

The contract's Appendix A clearly states:

"Terminals not properly packaged for returned shipping are subject to a $100 fine per terminal. Peanuts, Styrofoam, Newspaper, shredded paper etc. are not proper packaging materials and are not to be used (emphasis added). Only bubble wrap is acceptable. Keep packaging materials and box from original shipment and use with return shipping."

Mr. Long signed an agreement with our company and was given instruction to return our equipment in the same packing materials it was sent in and was politely asked not to use paper when shipping our terminal. This avoids damage in shipping and is necessary to the equipment's warranty. I have attached photographs for your review.

Susan G. Komen
I cannot begin to express how proud I am to have provided a small service for the Susan G. Komen charity. I have participated in fundraising efforts for the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City and have lost family members to cancer. I consider their work and effort to be noble and above reproach. This particular circumstance is most regrettable. We have been working with Komen representatives to resolve their concerns (I would suggest we have gone out of our way specifically because of who they are and what they represent to us personally and a community).

Komen Sacramento contacted us to provide 8 terminals for an event on May 12, 2012. They signed a contract with our company on February 24, 2012 (attached). Disappointingly, the terminals were returned in disrepair. All of the terminals required cleaning, one terminal was missing the support for the paper roll, one terminal had a broken printer and power supply problems (most likely due to being dropped), two terminals arrived with damaged internal modems. As requested, I have attached the repair invoices. As previously explained, it would have been more expensive to replace the equipment than repair it.

Our company rarely has to deal with these circumstances. It is unfortunate for all parties involved; and while accidents happen, sadly it appears as though all of this was avoidable. We certainly do not look forward to late fees and broken equipment. Often, we are able to disregard a terminal being returned a few days late; however, two weeks to a month is an extreme circumstance.

Consider for a moment what a car rental agency would do if a customer returned their vehicle 14 days to one month late. In Utah, car rental agencies successfully lobbied our legislature to make returning a rental car two days late a felony, let alone weeks. What would they do in the case of a car being wrecked, dirty or with broken equipment?

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your questions and hope this has been helpful. If you would like to talk to any of our thousands of satisfied clients I am able to arrange a conference call.

Warm Regards,
Jeremy Roberts
Director of Communications
Credit Card Machine Rentals

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