Hordes of MI retailers have cried foul about Music Merchant Recovery, whose goal is to collect and recover past due brand instrument rental fees. According to several social media posts, Music Merchant Recovery has collected hundreds, if not thousands of dollars from MI retailers, proceeded to collect past-due funds for band in instrument fees, but allegedly paid no compensation back to the retailer.
In addition to receiving no compensation, multiple MI retailers have accused Music Merchant Recovery of posting fictitious Facebook and Instagram postings, as well as stating that it operates storefront, when the location is actually an alleged warehouse. On its Facebook page, the company posted this description of itself: “Since 1997, Music Merchant Recovery has been the leader in the collection and recovery of past due band instrument rental fees.”
Allenhurst, N.J.-based Music Merchant Recovery is also known by parent company Baylor & Connor. Tracy Leenman, owner of Musical Innovations in Greenville, S.C., is one retailer who has expressed concern about the company. She states she has been defrauded to the tune of approximately $2,200. Leenman has emailed Kevin Sullivan, director of client services for Music Merchants Recovery, on several occasions. One email she sent to Sullivan read:
“I have tried to reach the ‘owner’ and ‘principals’ of your company (and its supposed parent company) but to no avail. Depending on the legal status of the corporation, any or all of you may be liable. That being said, we’ve found that the photos shown online for the ‘owner’ are stock photos and we are not even sure he exists. Your business address is a warehouse. There is a long list of other industry companies that are dissatisfied and working with us to put together a legal complaint of fraud and theft. So, no more deception from your end, please. If you take in money from our clients, how come that money cannot be forwarded to us as soon as you receive it? To use our money for other purposes is legally theft.
“We are willing to be ‘patient,’ but I’d like a timeframe, please,” continued Leenman. “We are now owed over $2,200 and if we go to court for that we will also insist on your commission on these payments, making the total significantly more.”
Responded Sullivan in the latter part of last year: “Well I do exist and unfortunately I am sorry you are having difficulty reaching the owner. The corporation is set up legally and was and still is in operation. The office address isn’t in a warehouse, we have a physical address at 560 Main St. The company is trying really hard to get back on track. We lost credit card processing, and a few bank accounts because of a collector putting in fraudulent checks, and the banks and processors are still holding on to the funds. Credit Card processing banks can legally hold funds for up to six months and in some cases longer depending on the particulars of what transpired. Which ours has chosen to do. As soon as I have a better answer for you I will email you and let you know.”
However, Leenman stated she has still yet to receive any payment from Music Merchant Recovery. “I tried to be patient with them,” Leenman told the Music & Sound Retailer.
Leenman added she has now employed a different company to try to handle collections, whom she stated is working hard and honestly.
The owner of Musical Innovations was not alone in expressing concerns about Music Merchant Recovery. According to Donovan Bankhead, president of Missouri-based Springfield Music, he turned some accounts over to Music Merchant Recovery and received payments from the New Jersey-based company initially. “Now they don’t return phone calls or emails, and customers are telling us that they are still making payments to them,” he told the Retailer.
“These people are criminals,” Bankhead wrote on a web post. “They collect on the debts that you place with them but then keep the money instead of paying the debt on behalf of the customer. They will not return phone calls or emails.”
Music Merchant Recovery may not be the only collections company with alleged unscrupulous tactics. Kevin Walters, president of Central Penn Music, told the Retailer he has had a problem with a company called T.I.R.G. It is unknown if T.I.R.G. is related to Music Merchant Recovery.
T.I.R.G., based in Florida, “initially did a decent job for us and we got payments from them,” stated Walters. “Then the payments stopped. We could not get any responses from them and as far as I could tell, it appeared its base of operation either moved to New Jersey or was always in New Jersey. We contacted the Attorney General in Florida and she explained that it isn’t her job to protect businesses from things like this and would not pursue it.”
Central Penn Music never received approximately $2,000, reported Walters. “At the time, my wife was in contact with some other stores that were owed way more than that,” he said. “We later received some very pushy sales calls from a ‘new’ company that was specializing in the music business. Every time I tried to confirm any information they hung up or avoided the questions. The calls originated from several different states. It appears these thieves are very good at what they do and seem to be moving enough to avoid prosecution. They seemed to know way too much about us for it to be a coincidence.”
Sullivan did not respond to an email request from the Retailer seeking comment.
A call placed to the Federal Bureau of Investigations to determine if it was investigating Music Merchant Recovery was not returned.