Chocolate franchisor to face court after ACCC investigation

Posted by Editorial on 17th July 2009

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court, Sydney against Personalised Chocolates 4U Pty Ltd and its director, Troy Patching, for alleged contraventions of the Trade Practices Act 1974.The ACCC has alleged that PC4U marketed and sold personalised chocolate franchises by making false, misleading and deceptive representations, including representations that:

* software essential to the franchise business would be provided to franchisees when it was not
* a manual relevant to running the franchise business would be provided to franchisees when they entered into the franchise agreement when it was not, and
* refunds of franchise fees would be available on certain conditions when some of those conditions were impossible for the franchisee to meet.

It is also alleged that PC4U is now promoting itself as a licence system when it is in fact a franchise system.

The ACCC further alleges that PC4U failed to comply with various obligations under the Franchising Code of Conduct. The competition regulator has taken action against sole director of the franchisor, Mr Patching, for allegedly being involved in PC4U’s conduct.

The ACCC seeks various orders including declarations, injunctions, corrective notices, findings of fact, costs and orders that PC4U implement a trade practices compliance program, and that Mr Patching attend trade practices law compliance training.

The matter has been filed in the Federal Court’s Fast Track and is listed for a scheduling conference in Sydney on 28 August 2009.