Fairly long story (aren't they all?), but the short version is; A new of ours agreed to a fee for service agreement--I run a nanny employment business
--a sort of temporary staffing firm. This family paid an initial fee--clearly delineated non-refundable upon an event, which occurred. They then fired us (allowable according to the agreement), but demanded their non-refundable initial fee back. We refused, carefully explained why and they charged us back (Mastercard, of course). We use Intuit Merchant services. They gave us instructions on disputing the charge-back and we did. Just received notice today that they want to arbitrate--which ups the stakes by $500 (the original charge-back was $395). The response is *very* fishy; includes altered documents (provable), forged signatures, outright lies (provable), ad-homonym attacks, etc. OTOH, the agreement boilerplate, required by my Franchisor, is clear in intent but contains at least one ambiguously written clause, when taken by the letter. I'm no lawyer (though I have written hundreds of contracts
in another field), but I can certainly see the loophole he is seeking to exploit. No help from Franchisor, of course. FWIW, I'm in California, the Franchisor in Minnesota. Franchises
in 26 states, but a single agreement, "suitable" for all.
My main question is; do I even stand a chance? I'm a small business
, have everything I own invested in it (California C-Corp. We did $1.5M in 2012 for about $50k net profit and another $30k exec salary). $395 is 10 days mortgage on my home or 3 weeks groceries for my family. The complainant is wealthy (~$1M - $10M net worth) I'm advised by other small business owners that chargebacks *always* go in favor of the consumer, even though, legally, I am the accused; he the accuser.
I feel righteous, cheated and mainly, angry. Common sense says let it go and move on, but dammit, I'm right and he is wrong--and his lies and forgeries alone should win this for me. Thanks for any advice, and I'm happy to share with you as much of the paperwork as you like.