“If it’s too good to be true then it probably is.” We’ve all heard that before. Well why should a truck lease be any different? In April 2016 New York Times Reporter David Segal chronicled Mississippi-based American Truck Group. American Truck Group (ATG) has a rent-to-own program for independent truckers who lack the credit for a bank loan. While there are plenty of reputable leasing companies around, ATG’s program seems extremely predatory. The basic plan is that truckers pay a down payment, then monthly instalments and after a year they own the truck. Of course that isn’t what actually happens. Hidden fees drive up the regular weekly instalments and the trucks frequently break down. If the trucker doesn’t make all the repairs at one of ATG’s three facilities, they must pay out of pocket. Some claim the warranty they received is worthless. This model, hidden fees, costly repairs, rinse and repeat, usually leads to repos. The full articles are linked below but here are some suggestions to avoid falling into this trap:
- Read the contract carefully. The hidden fees used to increase the payments are there.
- Sleep on it! If considering a deal like this don’t commit right away. Many truckers felt pressured to sign a contract right away by the sales associate. The deal will be there the next day.
- Hire a lawyer. Contracts are complicated. Lawyers look over this stuff for a living. It is better to pay a lawyer a few hundred dollars to review a contract than to be on the hook for a lemon that gets repoed.
- Research the company. ATG has an F rating from the Better Business Bureau says Segal. Horror stories from duped truckers are easy to find. Find them before committing.