Sam Johnson thought he had found a great deal for a custom-built trailer. But instead, he's stuck with a $20,000 debt for a trailer he never got.
Johnson, a South Carolina truck driver, was testifying this week at the trial of Blountsville, Ala., Frank Fountain, accused of fraud for selling trailers under the name "Fountaine," which many disgruntled customers mistook for the recognized trailer maker Fontaine.
According to a report in The Birmingham (Ala.) News,
prosecutors say Frank Fountain added an "e" to his name and advertised in trade magazines offering to build trucks, trailers and equipment. But he never delivered on the goods to at least 10 customers, prosecutors say, bilking them out of $150,000.
Fontaine Industries, Fontaine Trailer Co. and Fontaine Truck Equipment Co. got complaints from the unhappy customers. Company attorneys filed a complaint in federal court to keep Fountain from using the name Fountaine in 1996. Although a judge ordered Fountain to stop using the name in 1997, it reportedly did not stop him.
Fountain's lawyer, however, says Fountain is not guilty of fraud, just of poor business management and personal problems.
Johnson testified that after he saw Fountain's ad in a trade magazine, he wired Fountain money four times for upgrades to the custom-built trailer he ordered. He was promised the trailer within 30 days, but got the runaround from Fountain. He decided to pay a visit to "Fountaine's" headquarters, but he said all he found was a junk yard and an offer of an old trailer from Fountain rather than the custom-built one he had ordered. Now he's stuck with a $20,000 debt to a finance company -- and still no trailer.