Ex-Arrow drivers with lease-purchases fight to keep trucks

| 1/8/2010

In the three weeks since Arrow Trucking completely shuttered its doors, former drivers who had lease-purchase agreements are still attempting to pick up the pieces, despite having zero access to desperately needed information the company has regarding their escrow accounts and the financial records on their trucks.

Former Arrow driver Kenneth Goodemoot of Barton City, MI, had just seven months left before his truck was paid off. He said he isn’t alone and that there are approximately 47 other drivers like him who are in the process of negotiating to keep their trucks. 

And John R. Bagileo, a Washington, DC-based attorney who has more than 43 years’ experience in transportation law, said it could be in these drivers’ best interests to negotiate with the finance companies because they have so much equity invested in these trucks.

“If that driver has an equitable interest in that truck to the extent that he has been making payments and he has been in the process of purchasing that truck to one degree or another, I think he has a right to protect his interest in that vehicle and not simply to turn in the vehicle and thereby lose any equity he has in it,” Bagileo told Land Line and Land Line Now.

Bill Pelham of Phenix City, AL, is another one who had a lease-purchase agreement with Arrow. Until the company abruptly suspended operations, Pelham said he was just a few payments shy of having his 2005 Freightliner paid off.

However, that’s all changed for him now.

In fact, Pelham told Land Line he had already paid in nearly $97,000 toward “truck ownership.” While he is working with the finance company, Daimler Financial, to negotiate terms to keep his truck, he said Daimler admitted they don’t have any payment records on him. 

“I was told that they didn’t have any record of me making payments toward this truck and that Arrow basically defaulted on paying on any of their trucks,” Pelham said.“So while they said they wanted to work with me, it was definitely going to cost me more than what I showed that I owed on my truck.”

“My records show that I only owed $630 before it was mine,” he said.

OOIDA Member Robert Anderson of Laredo, TX, is another driver who had a lease-purchase agreement with Arrow. He had paid in more than $50,000 toward ownership of his truck. He told Land Line he had just renewed his lease agreement with Arrow on Dec. 16, 2009, six days before the company shut down.

“They couldn’t wait to get me in to renew my lease, but they had to know this was coming to an end,” he said.

Anderson said the finance company has been hesitant to share any details surrounding his truck because they had only dealt with Arrow previously and had no record of him having a lease-purchase arrangement with the now defunct company.

“The finance company (Daimler) told me that I had to get with Arrow if I wanted to know the details and get them to open up their books and find out what’s going on and where my money went that they were taking out for payments on my truck,” he said. “I told them, ‘good luck finding them.’ ”

On Friday, Pelham, Anderson and Goodemoot were all still waiting to receive written contracts with the final finance terms on their trucks from Daimler.  

However, Bagileo said there may be grim news for these drivers who had escrow accounts with Arrow because they will more than likely never see that money when or if the company files for bankruptcy. As of Friday, Jan. 8, that still hadn’t happened.

“I would doubt seriously if those accounts existed anymore,” he said. “Probably those assets were used in areas other than what they should have been used as the company was struggling financially. I don’t know that for a fact, but I think that is an assumption one could make.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer
clarissa_kell-holland@landlinemag.com

– Staff Writer Reed Black contributed to this report.