When is an agent, not an agent?

Scenario: You are approached by a sales company with a super duper, new fandangled photocopying, telephone franking machine, wotsit, thingy, doodah, it costs just £20,000.00, “but you sir, you can have it for just 20 pence per week on a 10 year lease if you sign my order now!”, says the salesperson. “We will also arrange a lease for you so you don’t interrupt your cashflow and you can take delivery on Monday of last week!”

“Great” you think, so you sign the documents the salesperson thrusts in front of you. There may not be a finance company name on the document but you have no preference for any particular company, for if truth be told, you probably couldn’t even name a leasing company if you had to. So, the reality is you had absolutely no input into choosing the company who will finance the leasing of this wonderful new piece of equipment for you.

Things go smoothly for a while, then the relationship with the dealer goes wrong or, as so often is the case, the dealership folds. You contact the leasing company only to learn that they have no duty of care to you, they did not select the dealer; you did. They were good enough to help you when you requested they finance the equipment, keep making the payments because you are on your own.

“But hold on,” you say, “I didn’t know you even existed and I certainly did not ask you to finance anything, it was the dealer who introduced us.” That’s when you are referred to the agreement you signed. It may well not be that lease company’s standard document; it might well be one that the dealer sold to the highest bidder, but it still states the dealer is not an agent of the leasing company (or broker).

Despite the fact that the facility you were seeking, was made known to the finance organisation by the dealer and the dealer needs a trading agreement with the Finance / Leasing company before he can introduce (sorry pass) any business to them, as far as they are concerned, the dealer was not and is not an agent of the finance / leasing company. It says so in the small print on every leasing company’s document and you must sign to accept that before they will accept your business, even though leasing companies will not generally finance equipment for you without some form of introduction, and a supplier needs to be on their approved supplier list.

So in case you didn’t get it right the first time, from a Lease / finance companies point of view:

An Agent is not an Agent when it is a sales organisation who places your equipment finance needs with a finance / leasing company on your behalf.

When this crazy scenario eventually changes, as I am sure it will, then the finance company will be as liable in law as their Agent (the dealer) when things go wrong.

If like us, you believe Finance & Leasing companies should take responsibility for their agents and the loophole be closed, email us.

If you want to find out if the lease or maintenance agreements you have or are about to sign are fair, email us and request a free review or call 0208 695 7301 or 020 8695 7301 now.