Dream turns into a nightmare

Phumzile Amos of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu- Natal, thought she had broken through into the building industry when she entered into a franchisee contract with Prop Holdings, a franchising company based in Pretoria.

Phumzile Amos of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu- Natal, thought she had broken through into the building industry when she entered into a franchisee contract with Prop Holdings, a franchising company based in Pretoria.

She had no idea that her money was better off in her bank account than investing it in revamping an old house. Prop Holdings offers a franchise agreement to prospective franchisees who want to buy old houses, renovate them and later sell them at exorbitant prices.

Thinking it was a lucrative investment, Amos paid a deposit of R50000 to secure the contract. She said she had a partner who would later contribute his services into the business venture.

The full contract amount was R150000, which she had to secure from any financial institution. However, she tried all the major banks and other financial establishments without any luck and later decided to cancel her contract and reclaim her money.

Amos said the franchiser, Stelio Nathaniel, understood her position and agreed to refund her. But Amos's cancellation was riddled with a lot of financial baggage. "I am saddled with my rent, which is in arrears by more than R9000 and have to pay a hospital bill, which is about R8000."

After Nathaniel agreed to refund her, she travelled from KwaZulu-Natal to Pretoria to collect her refund, only to be turned back because "the board had not authorised her payment".

Since Monday, she had been staying with a relative in Diepkloof, Soweto, waiting patiently for her money, while Nathaniel keeps on making empty promises, said Amos.

"Each time I call him, he promises to come back to me in a minute. It's been a week now and thousands of minutes have passed."

Nathaniel earlier told Consumer Line that Amos had in the past constantly renewed her contract. He said he believed that he had fulfilled his part of the contract and could sue Amos for the balance if he wanted to.

But Nathaniel later conceded that Amos's contract hinged on her securing the balance, which she failed to get.

He also admitted that Amos had not "constantly renewed her contract", but had rather misplaced her initial contract earlier this year.

He also said he knew Amos to be a good woman and would refund her by last Monday.

But again Nathaniel broke his promise.

His company is registered with the Franchise Association of South Africa and does not subscribe to its code of standards and ethics.

Consumer Line's efforts to get comment from him on Monday drew a blank.

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