Many of us would love to be our own boss. And buying a franchise can be the easiest way to get started.
But before you do you need to see what happened to one Northern Kentucky man who tried to get started in the coffee business.
Dreams of Ownng a Franchise
John Cappiello has always dreamed of owning his own business.So when he found an offer online for coffee vending franchises, at half the price of many other franchise buy-ins, he jumped.
"When this came up, I thought this is a great opportunity," he said.
He called "Coffee Vending Pros," after seeing an ad on several franchise websites. A man who said he was at the company's New York City headquarters told him he had one last franchise available in his area.
"I had to make a decision quickly because according to him he had other people interested," Cappiello said.
A quick online check revealed little about the firm. "I checked the Better Business Bureau, and there was nothing at all about them, and on the computer, and at the time there were no complaints."
Takes Out Loan
So he took out a home equity loan, a big home equity loan.
"I sent them $17,000 that I borrowed out off the equity in my house," he said.
For his 17 grand Cappiello then got a list of potential clients for his vending machines. Among them an old motel, and a car wash, Johnny's Car Wash in Erlanger, KY.
No one at the car wash wanted to go on camera, but a manager said "yeah, we're getting calls for people thinking we want coffee machines.
He said "we don't need coffee, we have a White Castle 20 feet away," right across the parking lot."
As for the other businesses that needed his vending machines, from the list he received, Cappiello says, "they didn't even know what I was talking about. There weren't any locations. There was nothing."
How to Protect Yourself
We tried calling Coffee Vending Pros, but the two numbers provided in their ads were disconnected. Their New York City address was apparently just a mail drop in Queens.
So don't let this happen to you. The Better Business Bureau says:
- Research franchise deals thoroughly. You are spending thousands of dollars, not $20 on a new toaster oven.
- Google them for complaints.
- Read testimonials from other franchise owners, and call hem to make sure they are real
- Get a contract
- have a lawyer look at the contract before you sign.
We checked with the Better Business Bureau and they have no record of any such vending company by this name. There is also no website, another red flag.
Complaints, however, are starting to pile up at the website
The Ripoff report,
where people from Florida to Michigan and California report sending thousands of dollars for a worthless franchise opportunity.
Cappiello is going to the New York Attorney General's office for help.
"I just don't want to see anyone else get stuck in this," Cappiello said.
As always, don't waste your money
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
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