How charity was 'duped' into a £100k contract for second-hand printers
PUBLISHED: 06:30 26 October 2019 | UPDATED: 07:38 26 October 2019
A charity claims it was duped into signing a £100,000 contract for two printers, worth just £13,000.
Missing Kind, which runs the KindaKafe on Castle Meadow, Norwich, warned it would have "severe consequences" on its work.
At least one other charity has also been affected and both charities claim their signatures were forged on key documents.
Missing Kind was approached in August by a company called Plan Corporate Services Limited.
The Hertfordshire firm told the charity that it had a deal with a printer manufacturer to help charities.
It would give the charity a £10,000 donation and pay the £22,000 cost of leasing three new printers for a year.
A contract was signed but Missing Kind said that money has never been paid, and it has been told it is stuck in a separate contract with a finance firm to lease the printers for the next five years worth £110,000.
They also found the printers were refurbished rather than new and one has not been delivered.
Missing Kind director Tom Gaskin said "We can't afford it. It will have severe consequences for us if we have to pay out.
"I have been beating myself up about it but I believe they did set out to mis-sell us these contracts. We feel we have been duped.
"We are facing an expensive legal battle. It will have serious implications."
Mr Gaskin, who is speaking out to warn other charities, said the agreed to the deal in September as it felt it was a win-win. They would get a donation and new printers.
The contract he signed with Plan Corporate Services stated that they could get out of the deal after a year and this was also confirmed in an email.
The charity would, however, have to sign a second contract with a leasing company which was financing the loan of the printers.
That contract was for five years but Plan Corporate Services told Mr Gaskin that the cost of leasing would be reimbursed by them and would only be one year.
In September, two of the three printers arrived and the leasing company, Grenke, took the first payment, but Plan Corporate Services has not paid the money.
Mr Gaskin said that since the end of September he had been chasing them.
On October 1 he spoke to the firm's owner and director, Scott Foster, whom he said was unable to help.
Mr Gaskin also complained to Grenke but they told him he had agreed to a five-year lease and he had told them that all three printers had arrived.
Grenke said the charity has to pay them £110,000 over the next 63 months as per their contract which Mr Gaskin signed.
But Mr Gaskin claimed he had not seen the full hire agreement with Grenke.
"Grenke will say, you signed the contract you knew what you were signing up for - but I didn't see most of the contract and in the agreement with Grenke my signature has quite clearly been lifted," he said.
"I know I didn't sign it because I have never seen the form and confirmed the arrival of printers via email not signature.
"It appears my signature was either forged or lifted."
The contract also states the printers are new but are not.
Grenke said it would not be able to comment until next week, but in an email to Mr Gaskin on October 18 said that he had confirmed delivery of the equipment and the terms.
They said they had never seen the equipment or the contract which the charity has with Plan Corporate Services.
They told him he would have to resolve the issue with Plan Corporate Services.
Another charity, YMCA Henley has also complained about being caught up in a similar deal with Plan Corporate Services.
Lisa Grant, director at YMCA Henley, said that her signature had also either been lifted or forged on a hire agreement which she had not seen.
The charity was paid a donation by Plan Corporate Services, as promised, and the first instalment to lease the printers,.
But Mrs Grant said they were being invoiced for two printers by two different lease firms when they only have one.
"We feel we have been mis-sold," Mrs Grant said. "I want the contract with Grenke terminated because I didn't sign it and don't have the machines.
"The money would take up a lot of our reserves. We are trying to run a hostel for young people."
Plan Corporate Services has not responded to requests for comment.