MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Valley Lettering in North St. Paul is always looking for more business.

So as convenience to customers, owner Don Buckentin takes credit or debit cards.

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But for each transaction, he pays a fee.

“This was far more than pennies,” Buckentin said. “This was hundreds of dollars.”

Buckentin was approached by the Apex Company out of Texas, who promised cheaper swipe fees. To sweeten the deal, they’d pay any early cancellation fee from his former vendor.

“All of a sudden I got collection notices from my initial processing company for almost $800 for early termination fee, which I was told was going to be taken care of by Apex,” he said.

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Renee Quimby was told the same thing, but soon discovered her contract was also altered.

“And this isn’t the first time it’s happened,” Quimby said. “There were other processors that I had signed up with, again crossed out that cancellation fee and then I had to fight for that right.”

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is now taking Apex to court, alleging fraud. She accuses them of not only altering contracts to increase its swipe fees, but also re-imposing annual and cancellation fees that were dropped in the original contracts.

“The company would get rid of that document and keep on file another contract that had different percentages, that had different fees that the businesses never agreed to,” Swanson said.

Businesses that kept the original paperwork could prove their terms had been altered.

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The suit is asking the courts to stop the company’s practices, and for monetary damages and penalties.