The Franchise Association of South Africa submitted its Code of Ethics to the dti, which published it in a government gazette in January 2016 for public comments, as a proposed Code for the franchise industry. However, the Code has not yet been accredited by the minister and once the Code is accredited as an industry Code, a franchise ombud would be established to deal with complaints and disputes.
In the interim and until such time as the Code is accredited and an ombud is established, the Association offers a basic complaints and mediation service to its members free or charge.
The service is offered on the following basis:-
- Only written complaints against members of the Association are accepted submitted via the online complaints form as displayed elsewhere on this page.
- Only complaints related to the potential franchisee/existing franchisee and franchisor relationship would be accepted in relation to alleged transgressions committed by the member of the Code of Ethics.
- Complaints from consumers related to products and/or service matters would not be accepted.
- Anonymous complaints would not be accepted.
- Complaints that are marked confidential would be rejected as details of the complaint are shared with the relevant member.
- If a dispute or complaint has already been handed over to legal council the complaint would be not accepted.
- Voluntary dispute resolution process. Kindly note only the complainant/s, franchisor, appointed mediator and a representative from the Franchise Association of South Africa are invited to attend mediation sessions.
Handling of complaints – the process
- Once a legitimate written complaint is submitted via the online complaints form the complainant would receive an automated acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint. If the complainant does not receive an acknowledgement email within 24 hours, the complaint form is to be re-submitted.
- According to the Code of Ethics members have 7 working days from the date of receipt of the complaint, to respond.
- Once a written response to the complaint has been received from the relevant member, it would be sent to the complainant’s submission email address.
- Complaints resolution is outsourced to the association’s legal committee in most instances. Members who nominate themselves to serve on the legal committee work elsewhere in the industry and do not work for the association. The committee meets once a month therefore a response to a legitimate complaint, referred to the legal committee, generally can be expected within one month of the submission date.
- No telephonic complaints enquiries and/or email exchanges would be accepted as the resolution of complaints is outsourced.
- Should a complainant not be satisfied with the response received from the member, a request can be submitted for a mediation session – see link to online request form. An automated response would be sent to the complainant acknowledging receipt of the request within 24 hours. If the acknowledgement email is not received the complainant is to re-submit the request for mediation form.
- Once a request for a mediation session has been submitted via the online form as well as all the relevant supporting documents, the relevant member would be requested to agree on attending a mediation session, bearing in mind that mediation is a voluntary dispute resolution process.
- Once agreement has been reached a mediator would be appointed at a convenient time and place. The costs of the mediator are carried by the association but all other costs for example if a settlement and other agreements are drawn up as well as traveling and other costs are for the parties own cost.
- Mediation sessions are offered on the basis of a maximum of a three hour session.
After submission of a complaint, mediation is offered as a voluntary dispute resolution process if the complainant is legitimately dissatisfied with the responding member’s response.
A request for a mediation session would be rejected if it is sought as a first step to resolving complaints or disputes.