Calgary complaint sparks advanced merchant sales probe
New form of lending offers fast cash for a cut of future debit and credit card sales
The Better Business Bureau is investigating an advanced merchant sales company after a Calgary restaurant owner complained of aggressive telemarketing.
Marco Abdi says he has been getting calls for months from a Montreal company called Advanceit.
The company offers up to $250,000 up front for a cut of future debit and credit card sales.
But Abdi is worried that the fast cash might turn out to be more than he bargained for. He thought it was a scam, but it's actually a new form of lending known as advanced merchant sales.
The companies behind the offers don't call it a loan, but simply say they're buying future sales while giving businesses a fast injection of cash.
But need exists, says expert
Critics say the offers are just a way of getting around laws that forbid excessive interest rates, but Richard Truscott of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the new form of lending could fill a void for businesses that don't qualify for bank loans.
"There is an identifiable need, and there's a company providing this service. So obviously the need exists, and they're fulfilling that need. Whether this turns out to be a good or bad thing for small business, well, that remains to be seen."
But Sandra Crozier McKee with the Better Business Bureau warns businesses to be careful because government regulations on advanced merchant sales are not clear.
"It needs to prompt more investigation by a few of us who are there to make sure business practices in our community are correct," she said.
CBC News tried to reach Advanceit, but there has been no response from the company so far.