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  • Writer's pictureJanice Richardson

Wichita Business Owners Warning:

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - A warning about what appears to be a scam targeting small businesses around Wichita, where sales representatives are showing up, promising you huge discounts on phone and internet services, then disappearing.

We spoke with some of the business owners who fell victim. Their warning is, no matter how legitimate something might seem, the old saying holds true: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

"My dad started in 1968, he moved in here. And then I've worked here, I've never had another job."

Any small business owner knows how tough it can be to keep the doors open. For Joy's Service Center owners Mark and Annette Joy, the promise of saving a small fortune turned into their biggest nightmare."It's been extremely exhausting. And it's caused issues between us being a husband and wife running a small business, did we get ourselves into this crazy mess when everything seemed like it was legit from the start," Annette said.

It all started in January 2023, when a salesperson from a company called "Rimrock" walked in the front door and said she could slash their internet and phone bills by thousands of dollars every year. After some due diligence, everything seemed legitimate, and the Joys put the pen to the paper. Everything was going great, at first.

"We would get a pop up on the screen it would say AT&T limited service and we couldn't get into different programs that we have to order parts," said Annette.

They were still paying Rimrock for internet, but it kept getting disconnected…and their business was at a standstill.

Attorney Jeffrey Lowe says things got weird when Rimrock told them it sold the contract to a new company."It was represented to them that they had sold their contract to Newlane. And you needed to call Newlane. So Mark and Annette called Newlane. Newlane says, 'we didn't buy any contracts. We already have a lease agreement with you. By the way, nowhere in there is there anything about internet service, we don't know what that's about,'" Lowe said.

Lowe then noticed that in tiny fine print at the top of the original contract with Rimrock, it already said the lessor was "Newlane," the company Rimrock claimed to have sold the contract to months later.

"Newlane didn't buy jack squat from Rimrock. Why would you sell a contract that's actually between you and Newlane? Rimrock really didn't do anything but broker the sale," Lowe said.

At the first of the year, Lowe says both companies went dark, forcing the Joys to pay double to keep their business running.

"So when Rimrock stops answering calls, and Rimrock is not paying the internet, what does a small business owner do when their entire phone system is internet-based? They have to dip into their own pocket and pay for the phone service themselves," Lowe said.

Lowe says it appears the whole thing might be a complicated bait-and-switch scam, and the Joy's aren't the only victims.

Annette says their close friends who own another business down the road are in the same situation, on top of countless recent reviews from all across the country with similar stories.

"Angry, actually. Getting taken by a company that they don't care about us," Mark said."We decided to do it. Now, we're into this disastrous nightmare. So we just want it to end," Annette adds.

KAKE News has reached out to both of the companies and have not heard back. Lowe says he's sent multiple demand letters, also with no response. The Joys say at this point, all they want is to be let out of the contract.

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