The franchise Owners Council has expressed its concern about the fairness of the process used by the New South Wales Office of Fair Trading in compiling its list of Most Complained About businesses in NSW.
The OFT has published the first of its lists recently, being a summary of the complaints received by OFT for the month of July. OFT has treated all members of franchise chains as one single business for the purpose of this list and this has the real estate industry up in arms at the patent unfairness of lumping businesses under totally different ownership and operated under individual licences together simply because they have a common trading name.
Council’s Richie Thornton (of LJ Hooker Tamworth) slammed the process as unfair and misguided in that it did not take to account that LJ Hooker has 231 offices in NSW and yet was treated as a single office. “Most of the complaints are in respect to property management and are generally of minor intensity and offices that were the subject of a complaint did not even get the right of reply” he said.
Council is very concerned that no qualification of a complaint was made and the agent’s side of the story was not sought or heard before these statistics were published.
Apparently a high percentage of these complaints were unfounded once the Agent had an opportunity to disclose their side of the story together with the relevant documentation Mr Thornton said.
In raising this issue at Council’s recent committee meeting, Mr Thornton said that the policy was discriminatory and was always going to feature the larger real estate networks purely on the basis of numbers. “The rules apparently say that if a business has 7 complaints recorded OFT would make a call to that business, and if 10 complaints were made, a physical inspection was likely. The reality is that on average our offices in NSW received less than 0.2 complaints per office during July, only a fraction of the minimum trigger point for OFT action and yet we have been singled out. This makes my blood boil” he said.
He also commented that it was no coincidence that the number of complaints received per real estate network was a close correlation to the number of properties each network managed.
Council has taken this matter up with CEO Grant Harrod who has been directly in touch with the President and CEO of REINSW and has also written a very strongly worded letter to the Director of the Office of Fair Trading.
However it has to be a collective fight. As individual offices, Members can help by writing to their local Member of State Parliament on their own letterhead. State your own case but if you wish, we suggest you use the draft provided by Corporate at
As they did with Negative Gearing, the major Franchise Groups are again going to unite to fight this travesty.
One of Council’s major concerns with this process is that it is a case of being declared guilty until proven innocent, which is totally unfair and contrary to the principles of natural justice.
Should any Member receive any negative feedback or worse, loss of business, as a result of the bad press on this issue, or you would simply like to discuss it further, please contact your local FOC representative.
Mr Thornton said “Members should be assured that the Franchise Owners Council is not going to lie down on what is an ill conceived piece of legislation. Please do your bit by lobbying your local parliamentarian and advise us of any negative feedback”.