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Geeks “Off” Call

A group of Geeks on Call franchisees are suing their franchisor for essential competing against with an telephone/online service.   I’m sure the FDD permits this.source

All of the suits were filed by the counsel for a recently formed franchise association. The suits, all substantially identical, claim that Geeks on Call is responsible for a financial downturn allegedly experienced by the Plaintiffs. The suits point to the recent introduction of CalltheGeeks.com as a cause of diminished revenue.

CalltheGeeks.com, remote technical support, is not offered in areas currently served by franchises. Company records show that many of the franchisees who filed suit are, in fact, showing year to date revenue exceeding prior year revenue.  Current economic data indicates that the small business community is choosing to repair rather than replace computers, a trend that bodes well for our franchisees within the IT sector. Unfortunately, rather than working with the Company to seek out and capitalize on this opportunity, these franchisees chose to file suit.

Mark Baumgartner, General Counsel for Geeks On Call Holdings, Inc. stated “the allegations in the Complaint are without merit. Numerous Plaintiffs had previously been notified that they were in breach of their franchise agreements. We know that many of these Plaintiffs have been more focused on disparaging the Company than on building their business. Unfortunately, their disparagement harms the Company and the Geeks on Call franchise community as a whole.”

It’s always hard franchisees to imagine the nice salesman’s boss would ever dilute your sales by competing against you, but it happens all the time. If you see a clause permitting the franchisor to compete with you even though they won’t open a location within your territory, negotiate that point before signing!!   Insist on restrictions on how they sell in your territory, even when the zor claims their lawyers require that language.  Ask for a percentage of sales generated within your territory at the very least.I’m not surprised the franchisor chose to not own a single store. For a different perspective, here is an apparently happy franchisee. 

About Ryan Knoll

Attorney and advisor with an interest in franchising. Feel free to email me comments and questions on the "Contact Us" page.