Franchisees move on Green Power

"We have sent a letter to franchisees asking them to get a lawyer, so it is now up to them," Ms Ding told the Herald on Monday.

The New Zealand Herald
March 6, 2008

Franchisees move on Green Power
Lincoln Tan

Six people claiming to have been sold non-existent businesses from commercial cleaning company Green Power formally complained to the Commerce Commission yesterday, and three others contacted National MP Pansy Wong's office for help.

So far, 10 people have complained about being conned into buying the bogus franchises for between $20,000 and $25,000 to either the police, politicians or the commission, but it is believed that more than 20 franchisees, all Chinese immigrants, could be involved.

This follows a case being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office in which Green Acres franchise master Keith Lapham is accused of selling non-existent ironing franchises to 200 immigrants from China and India.

"I think some are not coming forward because they are worried that it may affect their immigration status," said Zhou Ping, a franchisee who went to the commission yesterday.

The franchisees were promised a guaranteed weekly income of $1000 but they say the only work they got was free cleaning arrangements the company had with offices, retail shops and cafes.

A spokesperson for the commission confirmed that it was "assessing the information" to see if any wrongdoing had been committed, and expected the process to take about a week.

After a Herald report last week on the alleged scam, Green Power told franchisees that a meeting would be held on Monday to resolve the matter, but manager Helen Ding said her bosses had a change of mind and decided to go down the legal path instead.

"We have sent a letter to franchisees asking them to get a lawyer, so it is now up to them," Ms Ding told the Herald on Monday.

Besides the letter, which was in broken English, telling franchisees Green Power "will reserve our rights to against legally to your make-up tricky action (sic)", each was slapped with a trespass notice ordering them to stay away from the company's headquarters in Birkenhead.

In light of the Green Acres and Green Power sagas, the Franchise Association has made preliminary submissions to the review of the Financial Services Provider (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Bill calling for stronger legislation and better protection for franchise business owners.

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