Green Power points finger at franchisee

Yesterday, He Qi Ann, a franchisee who claimed to have been defrauded by Green Power, challenged the company to "settle the matter once and for all" by going to the police. Ms Ding said the company would settle the issue through lawyers and had advised franchisees to get their own legal representation.

The New Zealand Herald
February 29, 2008

Green Power points finger at franchisees
Lincoln Tan

The manager of the Green Power commercial cleaning company - which is being investigated by police for allegedly selling bogus franchise businesses - says the decision not to release a news statement through mainstream media was because the firm dealt mainly with the Chinese community.

"Our franchisees and the people the company deals with are Chinese, so we chose a Chinese radio station to release our statement," Green Power manager Helen Ding said.

It was read during a Mandarin talkback programme on the Chinese Voice station on Wednesday evening by a caller named Jenny, who Ms Ding said was a Green Power supervisor.

Jenny said it would be "the first and the last time" the company would front the news media and that all future communication would be "through legal action".

The statement said the free cleaning services the franchisees complained of were part of a "one-month trial promotion" the company had before Christmas, and the onus was on the franchisees to invoice and get payment from clients.

It also said at least one franchisee who claimed he had not been paid had received payment, and Ms Ding showed the Herald a Westpac Bank deposit slip for $760 made out to one of the franchisees as proof.

She said the number of franchisees involved with the alleged scam was closer to 20 rather then the 30 reported earlier in the Herald.

The Companies Office lists Chen Ji as a sole director for Green Power, but Ms Ding refused the Herald's request to speak with him.

"He is very busy, and does not switch his cellphone on very often," she said.

The Herald found Ms Ding yesterday morning at Green Power's Birkenhead headquarters, where she provided a copy of the statement read on Chinese Voice radio on Wednesday.

The office had been found locked and unstaffed on at least five previous visits.

Ms Ding blamed the franchisees for the current state of affairs at Green Power - accusing some of them of harassing and threatening two staff into resigning, leaving her as the company's sole employee.

"I have to attend to other matters as well, including cleaning places when we have not enough cleaners, so I cannot be in the office all the time," she said, explaining why the office was often unstaffed.

Ms Ding said the company had also taken out trespass notices against some franchisees.

Yesterday, He Qi Ann, a franchisee who claimed to have been defrauded by Green Power, challenged the company to "settle the matter once and for all" by going to the police. Ms Ding said the company would settle the issue through lawyers and had advised franchisees to get their own legal representation.

  • PROTECTING THE LITTLE GUYS

The Franchise Association has made a preliminary submission to the parliamentary finance and expenditure committee reviewing the Financial Services Provider (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Bill, calling for more protection for franchise business owners.

"We are most concerned with companies like Green Power, which is not a member of our association, that are only keen to market their system only to a group of trusting people, particularly of their own, who don't ask questions," said association chief executive Peter Fergusson.

He said mediation must be made compulsory, because a lot of companies tried to shrug off problems they had with franchisees by saying, "If you have a problem, then take us to court, knowing that for the little guy to take someone to court, you're talking a six-figure sum, and no one can afford it."

The association's submission called for compulsory registration for companies offering franchises for sale, registration of advisers to the franchise industry, possible disqualification from registration and compulsory mediation before parties enter legal routes.


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Risks: Affinity fraud, One of us, Fraud, Outright scam, Language shortcomings create a vulnerability, Register franchisees and franchisors, Mediation as information gathering, Immigrants as prey, Franchisor association still maintains fiction of representing franchisees, Franchisors want the minimum regulation they can get away with, Franchisees accused of lying, Can't afford to sue, New Zealand, China, 20080229 Green Power

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