The burden of carrying the sullied Fairstar Computers name is finally starting to take its toll on a number of the company's franchises.
When contacted by ARN last week, one franchisee who is curiously performing very well, admitted the company's future success may be retarded by customers who associate his shop with the failed Sydney business.
Paul Leesment, the general manager of Fairstar Computers in the Canberra suburb of Braddon, said despite only ever having paid franchise royalties to the Fairstar Computers group of companies to use the trading name, his shop is now feeling the effects of the large number of dissatisfied Sydney Fairstar customers.
"Our shops in Canberra have developed a good reputation and we see ourselves as a bit of a market leader down here with good penetration into corporate and government markets as well as the retail sector.
"Please make sure we are separated from Wally's Computer World and Fairstar in Sydney," Leesment urged ARN.
Leesment said his Canberra operation and other Fairstar franchises in Canberra, Newcastle and Brisbane are receiving calls from disgruntled Fairstar customers in Sydney wondering if they are connected and therefore able to help with warranty or other issues.
"There was never any connection between us and Fairstar other than paying to use their trading name to capitalise on national TV and radio advertising campaigns. We weren't supplying the same computers and we weren't using the same suppliers," said Leesment.
A representative from chartered accountants Love and Rodgers Hall Chadwick, the company handling Fairstar's liquidation, said the directors are not being too compliant with the liquidation and are proving to be very difficult to deal with.
The web around the Fairstar group is complex. A company called Technology Products Corporation (TPC) is now also in liquidation with the Fairstar Group owing them over $3.73 million. TPC supplied most of the computers to Fairstar and were never paid, leaving massive debts spread over 90 different creditors including Tech Pacific.
Steven Booth, an independent accountant operating as a joint liquidator in the settling of TPC's accounts said most records involving TPC have been destroyed and those remaining are in a terrible state. He said there appears to have been no attempt by TPC to recover the debt it was owed by the Fairstar Group.
The list of complaints against the Fairstar Group includes: products that weren't of a merchantable quality, misleading statements by sales staff, poor after-sales service, lengthy delays in warranty repairs, failure to refund deposits, lack of complaint handling systems, poor quality control and failure to return telephone calls.
Department of Fair Trading spokesperson Paul Childs said the department had already received three complaints along similar lines about the Wally's Computer World that has sprung up in Fairstar's old premises in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta.