A franchise agreement gone sour may cost a New Plymouth builder his new home after Telecom mistakenly cut his phones off leaving his family and customers with no way to contact him.
In February 2010 Dean Hassall paid more than $40,000 to buy into the fledgling Fix It building renovation franchise after seeing an advertisement for the opportunity in the Taranaki Daily News.
Already established as a builder with two employees, he hoped the franchise would help him grow his business.
But after 3 years he pulled out, claiming the franchise had not lived up to its business support, marketing, advertising or job-lead promises.
Hassall said the Fix It franchisor then used a clause in the franchise agreement to have Telecom, now called Spark, hand him control of Hassall's personal mobile and home phone numbers.
But he claims Spark had no right to take the numbers as they were his years before he signed up to the franchise. In the six months it has taken him to get the numbers back his turnover dropped by more than $100,000 as clients he had worked for prior to buying into Fix It were unable to get hold of him, Hassall said.
The loss of income is so much that Hassall said unless Spark came to the party he and his wife would be forced to sell the house they had bought next to theirs and were renovating to live in.
"‘I am going to have to sell the house I worked my guts out to buy because of this and Telecom don't care. How do you fight big corporates unless you are loaded."
The builder said after months of wrangling, Spark had agreed it made a mistake in handing the numbers over but that the mistake was "made without malice" and they were not liable for his losses.
"Telecom have done what they thought was right but they didn't look into it to find out that this agreement was only binding if both parties did what they agreed to do. Telecom, to me, have just gone and played god and they don't care about the right or wrong," Hassell said.
A spokeswoman for Spark said it recognised the company had not followed the correct process.
"We have apologised to Mr Hassall. However, this case was particularly unusual and it is largely down to human error that we were at fault in this situation."
She said Spark was in discussions with Hassall over compensation.
- Taranaki Daily News
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