Billy Mason claims he's tired of being bullied by fast-dealing businessmen who won't pay him for his work. He's filed a suit in Ontario Court against Ivor Prescott, president of AFM ("Anything for Mon...
Billy Mason claims he’s tired of being bullied by fast-dealing businessmen who won’t pay him for his work. He’s filed a suit in Ontario Court against Ivor Prescott, president of AFM (“Anything for Money”) Manufacturing Company to recover his losses, and – as he says – “to set an example for the rest of us who are too paralyzed by fear to go after these types of people.”
“These people” being businesses that used any assortment of tricks and technicalities to skip out on paying their freight bills. A shame? Yes, but also a common issue these days.
Mason is a brave man. For as anyone who has spent any time in the world of trucking knows, this kind of shakedown occurs more often than most people admit. And it’s no surprise that it’s usually the same, well-known group of toughs who are resorting to it time after time. “I’m sick of it,” says Mason, looking tired but determined. “I’m sick of feeling threatened.”
As president of Mason Truck Lines, a 16-truck LTL trucking services provider located in rural Ontario, Mason has seen his share of the slick and dangerous amongst “fly-by-night customers”. He’s about as knowledgeable as the best of them, and until recently had always thought he had the wherewithal to stay away from transportation’s lesser lights. He really should have checked their credit and background more deeply. Where can he do that? Well, normal credit channels of course.
The stories of eager, young trucking companies conned into laying their necks on the line to do a good job for their supposed clients – only to be jilted later – are regularly told in Mason’s circle. He wasn’t keen on becoming the subject of one of those stories. He kept his nose clean. He worked hard.
That changed in April 2005 when Mason was contacted by Ivor Prescott to ship a large freight order to all parts east. Mason’s had the trucks and the capacity to haul the loads. He knew he had the men and equipment for the contract. He had worked with Prescott before and knew he had his confidence. Prescott tried to stiff him and did manage to get a discount on fees on a technicality, but Mason swallowed his pride last time and still took the chance going forward.
According to claims filed with the court, Mason delivered 56 loads. All paperwork and bills of lading were clean and complete.
All deliveries for AFM Manufacturing were completed. But it all unfolded one day in June when, out of the blue, Mason got a call from Prescott saying his contract was being terminated and that he would not be paid for his work. Prescott threatened all kinds of phony claims and complaints.
Prescott was a business friend, thought Mason. This couldn’t be a set-up or could it?
According to the court documents, Prescott now owes Mason over $63,000 for the work he did in transport related services. “We put in solid time and successful deliveries,” steams Mason, “all at our own expense”. We bent over backwards for these guys, and they “screwed” us.
While Mason contends that he was thrown away once the contact was in place and his usefulness to Prescott and AFM Manufacturing Company had been out-lived, the latter charges that he had lost confidence in Mason’s ability to do the work. But the trial judge may find it a little suspicious that a clause in the contract stipulates that Mason is entitled to his money upon providing the services were delivered. He was to be paid in 45 days.
Apparently, Prescott terminated Mason assuming that he would go bankrupt and just go away. “It was a vindictive and greedy act,” says Mason. “I made these guys lots of money, used my staff and resources to just get sucker-punched and kicked in the ‘you-know-what’s.'” He’s suing Prescott and AFM Manufacturing for fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of a duty of good faith, among other things.
He felt he had to act. If he didn’t, he says, “these thugs will continue stepping on little guys like me, and taking advantage of people who know nothing but an honest day’s work. They’re nothing but bullies, and it’s about time they got their due.”
Let’s hope so.
All the names and companies mentioned in this article are fictional. But stories like Mason’s are told every day. What’s rare is a trucking company owner ready to do battle over such injustices. If you have had a similar experience with dishonest business people and would like to tell me about it, drop me a line c/o of my email.
Mark Borkowski is president of Toronto based Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. Mercantile specializes in the sale of companies in the transportation industry. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org