For the past year, Damon Scarpelli, owner of Banks Channel Pub and Grille, has been fighting to get out of a contract he says he didn't sign.
Scarpelli said the incident started a year ago.
"A gentleman had walked into my restaurant to sell me credit card processing," Scarpelli recalls.
The salesman was from the Costa Group. Scarpelli said the man offered him a great deal on credit card processing equipment. He said the deal included lower rates, free paper, and free back up terminals.
"After discussing the fees and stuff with him, I signed on to it," Scarpelli said. Unfortunately for the business owner, the deal was not what he thought it was.
"His promises weren't true. I was locked into contracts with other companies," the business owner explained.
He said he is now locked into the contracts and can't get out of them. He suspects a copy of his signature was forged and used on other parts of the contract.
The Costa Group released the following statement in response to the claims:
The Costa Group is an ISO (Individual Sales Organization) for two well known companies in the Merchant Services Industry. The Costa Group runs its business with pride and focuses on customer service, making its best efforts to ensure that all merchants are satisfied with their service. The Costa Group values its customer relationships and responds to any complaints received on an individual basis.
Scarpelli was shocked to find out another business on the island was making the same claims against the Costa Group. The Wrightsville Beach Police Department is currently investigating the situation.
"The potential for forgery has occurred with the two cases we're investigating," said Rebecca Bannerman, an investigator with the Wrightsville Beach Police Department.
Bannerman issued tips to avoid unwanted contractual agreements.
"Anytime you are going to sign the contracts, make sure that you're very aware of what you're signing. Read the big, bold print as well as the small, fine print," the investigator stated.
The fine print is currently costing Damon Scarpelli thousands of dollars.
"I never had to pay for a credit card terminal, so to pay $4,000 over the course of four years for something I don't need- It's detrimental to a small business like myself," the Banks Channel owner elaborated.
Scarpelli has also filed forgery claims with the Attorney General's office.
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