Groundbreaking judgment: the former Century 21 franchise is responsible for the loss
The robbed clients haven’t received their money back for four years, but now the situation is changing. A part of Century21 clients has set up the company Proti bezpráví 21 into which they moved their claims and filed a legal action for damages. The robbed clients won the trial – the final verdict claims that Reality 21 Century 21 is responsible for the loss and has to recompense it (almost 1 mil $). Recently we have started the distraint against the real estate.
Nowadays the company Reality 21 isn’t propertied. However, with this verdict we are approaching to Century21 itself. Reality 21 left the Century21 franchising, owners of the company got rid of it and switched it to a dummy director. The original Reality21 team moved to another Century21 franchise and continues to do business as the real estate Premium. “The number one in real estate” is acting like it isn’t its business so Century21 is likely to become “The number one in arrogance”.
Despite all of the obstacles and complications the final verdict presents a breakthrough and a new beginning. We have found a way how to fight against the irresponsible Reality21. And we will do everything to find the way to its “mother” Century21 too.
The attitude of Czech Century 21 three years later…
Czech Century 21 offers in its advertising campaign „a brand that brings new clients through trust in the reputation of an internationally respected company“ to their potential franchisees. And here comes the catch – this reputation does not count anything for customers because the mentioned trust is a commercial commodity without any obligation. It has been almost three years since 50 clients were brutally robbed (tens of millions of Czech crowns during the sale of real estate) by the real estate agency Century 21. However, until now Century 21 has not helped them. After two-year lasting conflict followed by the media, Century 21 began to pretend to negotiate with the clients with the goal to help them. Yet nothing has changed. Century 21 has decided to bet everything on arrogant excuses. Century 21 in the Czech Republic stands as a proof that even an established global brand offers the clients absolutely no guarantees. Century 21 has distanced itself from the robbed clients, has offered them no form of assistance and finally has not accepted any moral or business responsibility. We remain determined to fight against this injustice and against the cowardly conduct of Century 21. We will continue to do everything to remove all of the undeserved trust from the brand Century 21.
THIS IS A “SELL A FLAT AND GET NO MONEY” WEBSITE!
This is a documentary website monitoring a true story of some 50 Czech Century 21’s clients who lost the equivalent of approximately $ 3 million when selling their flats, located mostly in Prague, Czech Republic. This website is a result of the efforts of a group of victims trying to attract attention to the poor entrepreneurial culture of one of the world’s real estate leaders, Century 21, and one of its franchisees, a real estate company based in Prague, Reality 21.
We created the Czech, full-length website in order to better communicate within the group of victims, some of them having so far stayed isolated from all forms of collective coordination. We also use the website to inform the group of Century 21’s Czech franchisees, staying aside our legal conflict but being at the same time objectively involved in it as they are bearers of Century 21 trademark and of its entrepreneurial culture. Journalists are another target group of this web. With it, we can provide them with complete and well structured information about our affair which becomes fairly complex and difficult to share with “outsiders”. Finally, this website is a platform helping us – via its readers’ commentaries – to identify our errors of appreciation and to improve our argumentation. It is than an important tool of our reflexivity.
This website is not conceived as a protest space embracing victims’ spontaneous indignation. We do our best to separate the factual line of our (still developing) story from our interpretations, and in these, to substitute indignation by a soundly based critique.
In order to sell our real estate properties we chose one of the Century 21 branches, Reality 21. We paid a 4% commission from the selling prize for its assistance, including legal services. Through the mediation of Reality 21 Century 21, we concluded a contract with a buyer and launched the necessary administrative machinery. Meantime, the buyers’ funds were entrusted to an attorney, collaborating with Reality 21. Unfortunately, these funds were never seen again – with over $ 3 million he had embezzled the attorney disappeared, leaving the equivalent of 6 and 7 dollars on his two accounts. At present, the attorney is in detention, waiting for his trial. As for us, our properties were officially sold (the land register follows its own logic and doesn’t care if the purchase price was actually paid). Up to the present, we haven’t been paid – and we hardly will.
What is wrong?
The real estate company REALITY 21, which is a branch of the worldwide well-known Century 21, claims the “incident” described above is our private problem. We do not agree. We argue a part of responsibility lies on Reality 21 Century 21 as well. We also believe the franchisor CENTURY 21 failed to react appropriately; it is in the wrong when displaying its indifference.
The criminal attorney, M. Vlasak, was REALITY 21’s close collaborator. For sure, we concluded a separate contract with him but it was conceived as a part of Reality 21’s services – and it is symptomatic that we did not pay extra fees for the attorney’s services. The attorney was actually presented on the company’s website as its employee; he also used offices in the building where the company itself has been based. The victims coincidently affirm they were not offered alternatives to the attorney’s services and they were not informed about his true status. More: We have proofs about Reality 21’s active efforts in dissuading clients from renouncing to choose M. Vlasak’s services.
We moreover reproach Reality 21 for what followed after August 22 when it withdrew from the contract of cooperation with M. Vlasak. At this date at least, the company was aware of the attorney’s unreliability – this was actually the reason, as it says, of their decision to cancel the cooperation. Its clients, however, were not informed until September 8 and often even later. As we missed this timely information about attorney’s irregularities, we also missed the opportunity to act efficaciously (the land registration process was still in progress). The fact that in two cases at least the company let buyers make new payments on the attorney’s account is plainly scandalous.
What is the CENTURY 21’s role in all this?
None, claims the company. And once again, we do not agree. Our affair tellingly illustrates how perverted the principles of the “franchising” are (entrepreneurship under someone else’s trademark, preferably of a high repute) when regarded from the clients’ point of view. There is a striking contrast between Century 21’s complaisance when chasing its franchisees’ clients, and its disinterest when the very same clients find themselves in troubles. Does even the pen that all of them used when signing the sale contract bear the trademark Century 21? It doesn’t mean much. The disillusion has its important consequences. Instead of being a partner of a solid and mighty company, the client discovers himself engaged with a small enterprise with limited material responsibilities. If the specialized literature doesn’t use the word “clients’ misleading” as we do, it concedes nevertheless that franchisees’ clients are very often confused and (erroneously) believe they are dealing with a well-established company no matter how false the feigning is. Worse: It is considered, without shame, as one of franchising’s advantages!