Franchise fight ‘far from over’

“The Franchising Code of Conduct gives people a false sense of security. You don’t question it until you need it and then you find out how weak it is, and by then it’s too late for most.

http://www.southcoastregister.com.au
April 30, 2008

Franchise fight ‘far from over’
Adam Wright

DeannedeLeeuw.jpg

DEFIANT: Deanne De Leeuw, former Bakers Delight franchisee, is writing a book to help others negotiate the minefield a franchise business can present.

Businesswoman vows she will battle on

WHEN Woollamia resident Deanne De Leeuw questioned a major staff underpayment at one of her Bakers Delight stores, she was allegedly told by the company that it would not be in her interest to become involved.

That was like a red rag to a bull.

Ms De Leeuw dug deeper and what she found was the catalyst for an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigation.

Her findings also prompted Federal MP Joanna Gash to reveal in Federal Parliament last year allegations of fraudulent, intimidating and arguably criminal conduct from Bakers Delight.

This month the ACCC released the findings of its investigation, findings that cleared Bakers Delight of wrongdoing.

Ms De Leeuw was disappointed by the result, but not surprised after her eye-opening involvement in a process she believed was geared toward the big companies with time and money.

“I have requested a copy of the ACCC investigator’s report into this investigation.

“Once I have received this, I will be able to see just what and how the ACCC investigated the number of complaints made against Bakers Delight.

“I will then be better placed to understand what needs to be done in the future regarding the ACCC.”

Ms De Leeuw owned three Bakers Delight stores, one in Vincentia, one in Kiama and another at Shellharbour between 2001 and 2005.

She has lost a considerable amount of money but is continuing with private litigation against the company.

In October last year, she called for a Federal inquiry into laws and protection for franchisees.

She said anyone could enter into a franchise, without training, or business experience and there was little in place to look after franchisees.

“The Franchising Code of Conduct gives people a false sense of security. You don’t question it until you need it and then you find out how weak it is, and by then it’s too late for most.

“Fighting a battle like this is very time consuming. But I’ve learnt a lot in a short time and through this I’ve experienced a lot of personal growth,” she said.

“We’re continuing that battle on two fronts.

“One to get back what is ours, and second to get the laws strengthened to protect franchisees in the future.”

Ms De Leeuw expects to publish a book this year, which she hopes will expose the hidden pitfalls of joining a franchise and offer prospective franchisees an insight into how to better protect themselves.

http://www.southcoastregister.com.au/news/local/news/general/franchise-fight-far-from-over/468728.aspx


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