Thursday, May 26, 2022

Fight Heats Up Between Generator Company & Customers

A Madison County company is fighting customers who paid large deposits for back-up generators they have not received in bankruptcy court.  

Generator Technologies sells and installs generators for Generac and other manufacturers.  Although there are several other such dealers in Hinds and Rankin counties, Generator Technologies is the only Generac dealer in Madison County.  Customers who contact Generac are referred to these local dealers for sales and service. 

Unfortunately for Generator Technologies, there is a national shortage of generators.   The company's main supplier, Generac, simply can not meet the demand for natural gas generators. February 2022 Foxbusiness story.    

Despite the shortage, Generator Technologies continues to sell generators. Customers pay a 50% deposit.  Several said the company told them  the generator won't be delivered for at least 25 weeks.  Generac sends a letter to customers stating they will experience a delay in receiving their generators. The letter is posted at the bottom of this post.   The owner's wife told a customer on social media: 

Generator Technologies requires a 50% deposit. Several customers said the company told them it would be at least 25 weeks before their generators were delivered.  The deposits range up to $10,000.  Months and months and months passed while customers waited for the delivery of their generators.  Frustrated, some customers began demanding refunds.  When they could not get their money back, they contacted their credit card companies to cancel the transaction.  The company claimed in several bankruptcy filings it will deliver the generators when it receives them from Generac. 

Generator Technologies filed a Chapter 11, Subchapter 5* bankruptcy petition on April 29.  The petition states Generator Technologies has approximately 201 creditors. 150 creditors are individuals. Among the creditors is none other than Generac Technologies ($42,147). The largest debt is a SBA loan of $150,000. 

Generator Technologies filed motions to stay and enforce sanctions against the customers who attempted to cancel the sales through their credit card companies.  One such motion was filed against Ellen Foster of Vicksburg.  

Ms. Foster ordered a generator in August 2021 and paid the $7,000 deposit.  March rolled around and the Vicksburg woman still had no generator. She tried to cancel her order but received no response from GT.   Fed up, the customer disputed the transaction with her credit card company in March.  The motion states: 

7.          The delay in receiving generators has caused a delay in Movant installing generators and in receiving payment for those generators, all of which resulted in severe cash flow issues with the Movant that precipitated this Chapter 11 case. There are numerous customers of the Movant who are in the same position as the Purchaser - that is, they are awaiting delivery and installation of their generator, just as is the Movant.

8.          With respect to the Purchaser, Movant understands that at some point the Purchaser ran out of patience with the delays in delivery (even though those delays are no fault of the Movant) and she initiated a protest or dispute with her credit card issuer, asserting that she was entitled to a refund of the partial purchase price payment she had made to the Movant, through her credit card, because of the failure of Movant to deliver the generator that had been contracted for by the parties. It is the Movant's  understanding  that this dispute process  was  initiated  prior to the filing of the Petition herein (although Movant cannot verify that) but Movant was contacted  by its credit card processor, post-petition, of the issuance of this dispute and that the processor intended to attempt to reverse the transaction and obtain the disputed funds from Movant's operating checking account....

12.       The loss of the $7,000 down payment comes at a critical juncture in this case, and the loss of those funds will not allow the Movant to purchase necessary parts and supplies to install and service the generators that it has or it is about to receive, which may cause lost profits and additional incidental and consequential  damages as a direct and proximate result of the Purchaser's actions herein.

13.        Moreover, if this situation is to occur with other purchasers, this case, which has so much promise, may suffer irreparable harm under the circumstances and lose its ability to reorganize, so precedent is an important issue here.

 The feisty Foster fired right back at the bankruptcy company with an objection: 

3.         Receiving no response from Debtor, on or before April 26, 2022, Foster disputed the charge through her credit card company and requested a refund from Visa.  See Exhibit C attached and incorporated herein by reference.  The dispute of the credit card charge was not initiated until after the Notice of Cancellation was sent March 21, 2022, and after multiple phone calls were made by Foster to Debtor from April 20, 2022, until April 25, 2022, from which no response was provided by Debtor.  Foster did nothing further with regard to this disputed transaction for request for a refund.  Subsequently, the credit card company did credit Foster's card for the disputed deposit.  All of Foster's actions having occurred pre-petition, Foster is not in violation of the automatic stay.
The other motions relate similar accounts.  A customer made a similar complaint on the Generac website: 

I called the number I saw in a Generac ad and Generac sent Les Battles to my house on October 12, 2021 to give me an estimate. He said he could deliver and install a generator in six to eight months if I would give him a cash deposit of 1/2 the total cost, so I gave him a check for $6,149.83 and signed a contract. Generator Technologies, LLC filed for bankruptcy protection on April 29, 2022. Now I am one of about two hundred creditors in the bankruptcy. Incredibly, Generac is still advertising in the local paper and referring customers to Generator Technologies. I have no idea what Generator Technologies did with my deposit money. As of the date and time of this writing, Generac has not responded to my requests for information about what it intends to do about the customers involved in their five-star dealer's bankruptcy. (JJ spoke to the customer and confirmed the authenticity of the review.). 

One creditor claims he ordered a generator a year ago that was not delivered.  Billy Horne stated in a notice of claim filed today that he paid $4,494 for a 24KW generator in May 2021.  The price was $8,988.  Other customers filed claims for deposits paid between six months and a year ago.  The company did respond to a complaint on social media: 

Attorney Craig Geno represents Generator Technologies.   The case is assigned to Judge Jamie Wilson.  A hearing on the Foster motion is scheduled for tomorrow at 1:30.

* Congress created the Subchapter 5 classification in 2019 to make bankruptcy cheaper and more accessible for small businesses that are profitable but swamped by liabilities.  Debtors can force creditors to accept payment plans of three to five year terms.  The Court automatically appoints a trustee to supervise the case.  


Clarion-Ledger today



 

The relevant documents in the court file are posted below. 

P. 1: Motion to expedite hearing

P. 4: Motion for stay against Fitchie

P. 15: Motion for stay against Rogers

P. 27: Objection to motion for stay

P. 38: Motion for stay and sanctions against Foster

P. 43 Sales contract for Foster

P. 48: Creditor matrix

P. 67: Bankruptcy petition

 

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness they never replied to my request for a quote.

Anonymous said...

This is a shame. I bought my Generac whole house generator from them just before the shortage started. Great customer service, great support.

Generac has screwed over dozens of their dealers.

Anonymous said...

Recently purchased a Kohler generator from Yoder Electric out of Columbia. Had to wait about 3 months for installation. Mr. Yoder has been doing installations for about 13 years. Very satisfied customer.

Anonymous said...

I just purchased a 24 Kw Generac from a dealer in Greenwood. He had it on the floor of his shop and we made the deal in 2 days. I live in Raymond and I was referred to him by a family member. The family member in Memphis can get them all day long and he is a Generac dealer but he referred me to this installer in Greenwood that he trusted. I paid a total of $10,650 with the transfer switch. I don’t regret the cost of it at all but what I don’t understand is why did some customers pay $10,000 down? They must have a 6,000 sf house and if that’s the case they should have gone to a commercial dealer like Taylor Power to get one because it sounds like they either needed a 40 Kw or something around that size. I wouldn’t trade mine for anything since the summer hurricane season has been forecast to be a rough one. I hate this for the purchasers. I’m usually a guy that gets shafted but this time I dealt with a great company. I looked at at Kohler first and they make a great one. I was told by the dealer that Centerpoint gives rebates but Atmos doesn’t. I do know that Generac manufactures their own engines now since Ford couldn’t keep up with the demand…yep Ford…and that’s straight from a dealer telling this. In a nutshell it was the best investment I made in a long time.

Anonymous said...

Is this the same lawyer representing the grain purchaser in Greenwood which paid farmers with checks that’s bounced?

Anonymous said...

Please lent Mrs. Foster know I have some nice hunting property for sale near Vicksburg.

Anonymous said...

I would not put a $10,000 deposit on a generator and don't understand why anyone would.

Anonymous said...

Things are tough all over. Sucks for those who put up deposits but this is a far cry from the fraud perpetrated by the grail elevator people. Never trust nobody.

Anonymous said...

For everyone else looking for a generator, you can buy portable WEN, Generac, and Kohler dual fuel generators for less than $2000. Then you just have to pay an electrician to install a transfer switch. Otherwise you can buy a suicide cable to illegally backfeed it through your dryer plug. Lots of youtube videos show you how. Backfeeding is too dangerous to do if you have kids. But a single person our childless couple can so it if you are careful.
Buy the generator now and learn how to use it.

Professionally_Sketchy_Guy said...

So basically, it was always a Ponzi scheme where they were taking customers deposits to pay for the previous customer's generators and then trying to do it again and again until the shortages caused them to fall behind.

Sucks to be them, but they can't not refund people's down payments if they can't fulfill their contract obligations.

Anonymous said...

"For everyone else looking for a generator, you can buy portable WEN, Generac, and Kohler dual fuel generators for less than $2000. Then you just have to pay an electrician to install a transfer switch. Otherwise you can buy a suicide cable to illegally backfeed it through your dryer plug. Lots of youtube videos show you how. Backfeeding is too dangerous to do if you have kids. But a single person our childless couple can so it if you are careful.
Buy the generator now and learn how to use it."

Never do this. First you can't buy a suicide cable legally (you'd have to fabricate your own), secondly, is it very dangerous for those living in the house, and thirdly is dangerous to those linemen working on power lines outside your home.

Pay the grand or so for the transfer switch and proper installation.

Anonymous said...

Generac can't deliver but they are running an aggressive advertising campaign on TV. WTF?

Anonymous said...

Did the retailer have to pay the manufacturer when placing an order? If not, I think 9:05 p.m. may be on to something with the Ponzi scheme theory.

I don't see where Geno pled any such facts, and I'm sure he would have if he could have. If anyone knows, please chime in.

Just a normal dude said...

Plain and simple, this is a supply chain problem.

Try replacing windows and doors right now. Same thing.

These impatient customers are killing small businesses right now.

Don't complain a year from now when there is no local business to go to to get a roof, door, window, generator, food, etc...

These stupid Jackson Jambalaya commenters cannot see the big picture and are being led along like sheep.

Anonymous said...

11:11: The question is why did they require 1/2 payment up front, but not have sufficient funds to cover cancelled orders.

Anonymous said...

What does Lynn Fitch have to say?

Anonymous said...

All these supply chain issues lay at the doorstep of the present occupant of the White House and his lack of understanding of how the U.S. economy works. He has zero experience in business, only knows how to cash a paycheck from the federal government, which is a fantasy land. Figure out a way to survive for 2.5 years more of this nonsense, then pray a real leader is elected to take over the controls of the U.S. economic engine and get us back to where we were in 2019.

Anonymous said...

Lowe's has a Generac on the floor as you enter the auto doors. I would assume they would have a similar problem with the supply chain side of it if this other company does. Unless, the smaller company has problems paying for the unit once delivered. I know it's a good possibility but I have never heard of such complaint regarding Lowe's. I might just do some snooping as I was considering installing one given the rumors of rolling black outs this summer.

Anonymous said...

@9:43
I sell suicide cables and other “illegal” stuff on ebay. It’s a very profitable business.

Anonymous said...

Not a ponzi if it is a legitimate business operation. Look up definition of ponzi. They still had employees and other costs to pay while they waited on the generators. Those are legit costs.

Now, there might be laws dictating what they can and can’t use the deposits for and there is also the dreaded “terms and conditions” in the contract. But not a ponzi.

Anonymous said...

@11:11. Supply chain issues can certainly lose you business. But that doesn’t explain what’s going on here. I think 9:05 is much closer to correct. I’m not saying the business owner intentionally did it or that it was premeditated. But certainly he spent the deposits on something (payroll, overhead, etc.). This place is on highway 51 in Gluckstadt. I’m very familiar with them,

Anonymous said...

Attn 11:11 p m. You sound like you may be the crook that stole this money. Of course, we probably know what kind of shape you were in at 11:11 p m.

Anonymous said...

@5:28am

That’s an empty shell. Try picking up and see if there’s anything under it.

Anonymous said...

I got a Kohler a few years back from Lampton Love. No deposit, fast friendly and competent service, no problem. The independent electricians who did the hookup recommended Kohler over Generac.

Anonymous said...

Does Generac have inventory loans for the dealers? What about local banks providing inventory loans? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Wow you people are actually surprised that everything in government, business, and banking is a big grift or ponzi scheme?

Anonymous said...

Textbook problem managing cash flow. These business owners made numerous mistakes and should have stopped digging a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

I am not a business man per se, but I have at least some common sense. I do not understand why if you cant get a supply of something......do not take money for it.......I would think the appropriate strategy would be to Back off, downshift, go do something ELSE that makes money, and get back into this when the supply chain improves.

and obviously in this scenario you have no inventory to cover the cost of.

It is not advantageous but damn......Ebb and flow, ebb and flow.

Anonymous said...

"Textbook problem managing cash flow. These business owners made numerous mistakes and should have stopped digging a long time ago."

Yes, indeed. Any business taking up-front deposits likely has scant working capital and no established credit with their suppliers. So, with few units to install, they either pay their installers and staff with the cash deposits or lose them. And, the big box establishments may have pre-purchased units in their regional distribution centers. Smaller businesses do not have that luxury.

Anonymous said...

We looked into one of these Generac thingies powered by natural gas from an outfit in Columbia with a good reputation. They wanted, I don’t remember now, 10 or 12k for a whole-house one. They said it’d be three to four months before they could get ahold of one and then, because demand was so high and they were so busy, another few months before they could get to it and begin installation work.

Weeks later they come back and said the NG units had problems being able to handle the load for which they were rated to service. I don’t know whether they just preferred to sell us a kerosene model or whether they wanted to sell us a bigger unit. As much as I’d like the family to have power in the event of some catastrophe, I think it may have been for the best me backing out of the transaction, looks like now.

Well, a Generac isn’t going to save you anyway, Pinkie, from the horde of orcs in our future. Best it will do is keep the wife cool for a few days and she’ll be a little more bearable. They do get so cranky when they get hot, don’t they, now?

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is the same lawyer that represented the grain elevator.

For what it is worth, Craig Geno has almost cornered the market for Chapter 11 bankruptcies in Mississippi. There is not a lot of Chapter 11 business out there so it is difficult for a lawyer to pick up a case and get up to speed quickly. Geno has a volume of business and can stay current on the law.

He's not a bad guy. He handles complicated cases.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it's almost like The King of Bankruptcy got a law passed to protect deadbeat businessmen from hard working customers. Those darn lawyers, protecting the rich from taxes and responsibility!

Of COURSE "abritration" and Chap 5 and all these things are "more efficient" (at getting Bif another beach house and little Molly inheriting things without those nagging taxes......). Just as "efficient" as our private sector of inherited and unearned wealth!

You can ALWAYS and instantly be charged on a credit card, but you can NEVER cancel. Just ask your cable TV company how to do that. Gosh, that efficient and "self made" private sector of corporations....

Kingfish said...

Mr. Geno is a well-respected bankruptcy lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Anyone new to the generator world needs to remember one very important rule. These are air (oil) cooled. If you are relying on it after a disaster then you need to check and fill your oil every single day. During the last power outage, I checked mine and topped it off first thing in the morning and right before bed. Our grid is extremely frail. And unfortunately Vlad Putin can disrupt the power grid just as easily as he can disrupt our supply chains.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the company is using today's deposits to pay for the models they are delivering today that were ordered last Summer and Fall. They don't have the capital to order 10 for them to have in inventory. Now inventory might be a problem but getting a $2,000 deposit is more like it. They spent the deposit money that's why others in North Ms and Memphis can get the units and they can't.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why these 'customer's' haven't gone to the Attorney General to report a ponzi.

Anonymous said...

@12:16 - you are a genuis!

Kingfish said...

Who do you report to at AG?

Anonymous said...

anyone who pre-pays for something like a generator is a moron and deserves to get screwed .

Anonymous said...

"What does Lynn Fitch have to say?"

Last I heard, she's wrapping up depositions with her China lawsuit.



Anonymous said...

Never "front" the money.

Anonymous said...

Any update on the court ruling today in this case? Hoping the company is held accountable. They were having issues a year ago and still selling invisible generators until
recently. They knew exactly what they were doing. They dug a deep hole for themselves and want to blame all their customers. Such a shame.

Kingfish said...

I know plenty of businesses that require up front deposits. Hell, what is a retainer but a deposit (or prepay)?

Anonymous said...

I never put up deposits. That is always a huge red flag.


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