This is a familiar scenario. You get offered a new bit of kit and a five-year lease and the rep promises that you can quit at any time with no penalties. This looked good to Praful Jivan since his shop lease was for just three years and the landlord had told him the site may be up for redevelopment in just a few months.
He got it in writing from coffee machine company Rijo 42 and I have a copy in front of me. The business development manager said: “I can also confirm that we will remove the machine without charge should the business fold or your lease not be renewed within the five-year period.”
Then, just two months into the contract, Praful gets notice to quit from his landlord. He informs the coffee machine company and the leasing company that had arranged the financing, BNP Paribas.
You know what’s coming don’t you?
BNP Paribas were quick to inform Praful that Rijo’s promise to remove the machine without charge, meant literally that. Rijo would come and pick it up. The leasing company, however, still wanted its six grand for the next five years and had made no such promise to Praful. Nor was it present when the contract was signed.
Back in April, when Praful first contacted me, I got in touch with Rijo. A Rijo spokeswoman said: “There is no animosity. He won’t be out of pocket at all.”
I wrote it down and sent it to Praful when he decided to consult a lawyer. Fast forward to June and the issue has not yet been resolved, but there have been developments. Praful has been in dialogue with BNP Paribas, although Rijo is no longer returning calls. The coffee machine is still in the store, but just taking up space. Praful has negotiated the leasing company down, but the two have yet to agree a figure. Praful is prepared to go to court as the lawyer thinks he has a good case.
So do I, and I think the fact that BNP Paribas is still discussing it with Praful means that they know they are on dodgy ground. One assumes that the leasing company gave the five years’ worth of money to Rijo and is therefore entitled to get most of it back. The argument really ought to be between the two suppliers.