FRONTIER ADJUSTERS Franchise Owners Sue for Deceptive Practices, Conspiracy

Frontier Adjusters franchise owners Jayson Contino and Mamye Contino are suing franchisor Frontier Adjusters, Inc. and related entities, parent company MerryMeeting, Inc., and executives John M. Davies, Edward Ferrie, Patrick Enthoven, Jeffrey Harcourt, and Milo Bolender for breach of contract, civil conspiracy, violation of the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Wage and Hour Act, and Negligent Hiring and Retention.

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com) The lawsuit was filed October 6, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division.  A downloadable copy of the initial Complaint and the Defendant’s Answer to the Complaint are posted below.

The Continos are represented by the prominent franchisee law firm Marks & Klein of Red Bank, New Jersey and local counsel DeVore, Acton & Stafford, P.A. of Charlotte, N.C.

The Defendants are represented by Cleveland, OH-based Ulmer & Berne, LLP.

Frontier Adjusters parent company MerryMeeting, Inc. also owns Sunbelt Business Brokers and a number of franchise companies, including Geeks on Call, Computer Troubleshooters,  Inspect-It 1st, MTO Clean, Inner Circle, Pro Energy Consultants, and CPR Cell Phone Repair.

Are you familiar with Frontier Adjusters and/or other MerryMeeting franchises?  Please share your opinion below.

Lawsuit Alleges Greed is Driving Frontier Adjusters’ Franchise Dictatorship

Frontier Adjusters franchiseAccording to the lawsuit, Frontier Adjustors has been in operation since 1959, and operated as a system of hundreds of individual franchisees who were granted exclusive territories.

Frontier Adjusters franchisees were already-experienced insurance professionals who performed a variety of insurance-related services, such as claims investigations and appraisals, for insurance companies and self-ensured entities in their territories.

For decades, individual franchisees were responsible for attracting, developing and servicing their own client bases in their exclusive areas.

The lawsuit contends that when Frontier Adjusters was acquired by John M. Davies’ MerryMeeting, Inc., a multi-concept franchisor, Davies had a secret agenda to centralize control of the Frontier Adjusters sales process, and significantly diminish the autonomy of its regional franchisees.  In 2009, Frontier intiated its Frontier Adjusters National and Regional Customer Program, aka “FANRCP.”

According to the suit, the “FANRCP” program stripped franchisees from the direct relationship with prospective clients in their markets, and transferred so much control to the franchisor that Frontier Adjusters franchisees should no longer  be considered business owners.

According to the suit:

In furtherance of the secret implementation of the FANRCP program in the years 2001 to 2009, Defendants put into place multiple aspects of the FANRCP program, including, but

not limited to:

.

(i) a call center to receive client assignments;

(ii) a required computer system which provided to Frontier the names, contact information, and claim specifics of all assignments received, and claims investigations conducted by all the franchisees;

(iii) seeking ownership by the Franchisor through its required computer system, of all data related to clients and client assignments;

(iv) seeking authority for the Franchisor to dictate to the Franchisee the rates that would be charged for assignments;

(v) seeking authority for the Franchisor to determine the Franchisee’s legal rights regarding collection of invoices for work performed;

(vi) establishing unreasonable minimum billing requirements for the Franchisees which the Franchisor used selectively, arbitrarily and capriciously for the purpose of eliminating Franchisees who were disfavored; and

(vii) use of Software and other computer systems, mandatory disclosure of their insurance industry client and associated contact information prior to the effective date of FANRCP.

.

Despite emphatic opposition from franchisees, between September of 2009 and April 5, 2010, Frontier forcefully implemented the FANRCP against its franchisees.

…The Franchisor, in anticipation of its imposition of FANRCP, had engineered Franchisee reliance on the Franchisor to obtain assignments from clients, and planned to use that reliance against any Franchisee that did not accept the program.

… As such, the consequential franchisee-dependence stemming from the FANRCP, endowed the Franchisor with the capacity to make its threats and coerce franchisees into

compliance.

Frontier Adjusters Allegedly Sells Claims to Direct Competitors of its Franchisees

One of the most disturbing allegations of the lawsuit is that Frontier is not centralizing its marketing and sales functions to improve efficiency or service, but to make the greatest corporate profit – even when doing so hurts its franchisees by selling accounts to their direct competitors (!).

According to the suit:

…Frontier sell claims to direct competitors, Custard Insurance and Bulldog Insurance, because these entities pay a forty percent (40%) fee, rather than the fifteen percent (15%) fee paid by Frontier franchisees.

… Upon further information and belief, Defendant [Frontier Manager Edward] Ferrie  has his own side-business and a secret Frontier franchise location in the State of Arizona. Through Ferry’s secret franchise, Ferry intercepts claims from the home office and sells them to business [sic] throughout the United States.

Is Greed Redefining the Frontier Adjusters Franchise?

There are several interesting aspects of this Frontier Adjusters franchise lawsuit which we hope to delve into as the litigation progresses.

If the allegations are true, Frontier Adjusters, like 7-Eleven, may have to justify why their franchisees should not be considered employees (thereby eligible for wage and benefit protections afforded employees) when they have stripped them of the decision-making power and autonomy associated with independent contractors and business owners.

If the allegations are true, Frontier Adjustors may become another cautionary tale that we’ll use to warn prospective franchisees that no matter how carefully you research a franchise concept or its management, all bets are off when new owners take over.

Are you Familiar with Frontier Adjusters and MerryMeeting, Inc.?  Share a Comment below.

Note to Plaintiffs and Defendants & Attorneys:  UnhappyFranchisee.Com offers all those discussed on this site an open invitation to provide corrections, clarifications, rebuttals or other statements which we will publish with the same prominence as the original post.  Our intent is to provide both sides a chance to state their views, and let our readers make up their own minds.  Email ADMIN at UnhapyFranchisee[at]Gmail.com.

ALSO READ:

FRANCHISE DISCUSSIONS by Company

COMPLAINT:  JAYSON CONTINO, ET AL. vs. FRONTIER ADJUSTERS, INC., ET AL. Complaint Document

ANSWER TO COMPLAINT:  JAYSON CONTINO, ET AL. vs. FRONTIER ADJUSTERS, INC., ET AL. ANSWER OF DEFENDANTS

Contact UnhappyFranchisee.com

TAGS:  Frontier Adjusters franchise, Frontier Adjusters franchise complaints, Frontier Adjusters lawsuit, Frontier Adjusters complaints, MerryMeeting Inc., MerryMeeting lawsuit, MerryMeeting complaints, John M. Davies, Edward Ferrie, Patrick Enthoven, Jeffrey Harcourt, Milo Bolender, insurance franchise, franchise opportunity, franchise complaints, franchise lawsuits, franchise opportunity, franchise complaints, unhappy franchisee, Jayson Contino, Mamye Contino,

3 thoughts on “FRONTIER ADJUSTERS Franchise Owners Sue for Deceptive Practices, Conspiracy

  • December 10, 2014 at 10:18 pm
    Permalink

    Here’s the email I sent to the Defendants and their attorneys:

    TO: John M. Davies, Edward Ferrie, Jeffrey Harcourt, and Milo Bolender and attorneys

    SUBJECT: Frontier Adjusters Lawsuit on UnhappyFranchisee.Com

    Hello!

    UnhappyFranchisee.Com is a franchise news and discussion site that focuses on issues of interest to prospective franchisees, franchisees and franchisors.

    Our intent is to give both sides of contentious issues and disputes an opportunity to present their viewpoints and opinions, so that our readers can make up their own minds. Our policy is to give companies and individuals discussed on our site an open and ongoing invitation to provide corrections, clarifications, rebuttals, and/or statements in response to the issues presented. Franchisors being scrutinized or criticized on our site can feel free to invite their franchisees, associates and employees to express their positive experiences and opinions, either by posting comments directly on the article pages or by emailing us statements for publication.

    The Contino vs. Frontier Adjusters lawsuit is of interest to us because, if these allegations are true, it would seem to support our suspicion that more and more franchisors are exerting such extreme control over their franchisees that they have ceased to become business “owners” in any true sense of the word. Are 7-Eleven franchisees really business owners if they cannot control the volume or temperature in their stores, cannot access their own bank accounts without permission, or can be terminated without cause at the drop of a hat? We have reported on 7-Eleven at length, and the commercial cleaning concepts, tool trucks and many others who seem to be (in our opinion) misclassifying employees as independent contractors.

    The Frontier Adjusters franchisee lawsuit is also significant, in our opinion, because, if the allegations are true and the franchisee loses, it shows that franchisors can radically change the nature of the franchise concept AFTER a franchisee has signed an agreement. We have been reporting on Curves forcing franchisees to transition from an exercise concept to a weight loss concept, which is not what they signed up for. Did Frontier Adjuster franchisees buy a decentralized franchise concept that gave them the ability to develop their own markets, we are wondering, only to have the concept changed to a centralized system where the franchisees must take what the franchisor gives them? This is what we are wondering as we look through these allegations. We hope you’ll help us sort this out.

    We are looking forward to learning more about the Frontier Adjusters franchise and the other MerryMeeting franchise concepts, and we hope you’ll be willing to participate in the dialogue and share your point-of-view.

    Here is our first post on Frontier Adjusters:

    FRONTIER ADJUSTERS Franchise Owners Sue for Deceptive Practices, Conspiracy
    http://www.unhappyfranchisee.com/frontier-adjusters-franchise-owners-sue-deceptive-practices-conspiracy/

    All the best,

    ADMIN
    UnhappyFranchisee.Com

    >>> We hope that their attorneys are enlightened and social-media savvy enough to allow them to participate in an open dialogue, or that management will have the sense (cajones) to insist upon it. <<<

  • September 2, 2016 at 11:10 am
    Permalink

    ive had ecperience in dealing with frontier and jayson contino. one pays their bills and one doesnt. ive never experienced any issue with a frontier office. cant say same for contino!!

  • August 2, 2017 at 8:44 pm
    Permalink

    I opened my office of Frontier Adjusters in Boulder, Colorado in 1976 and I was the 13th office. I am in complete agreement with the allegations above mentioned and in addition I was recently advised that my office is to be closed effective 08-09-17. I have received very few assignment through the Frontier Adjusters network and my billings in the last two years were much less than my average billings for my 41 years of service. I did bill $1,100,245.04 for my last contract term of 8-09-07 through 8-9-17 and an average of $110,024.45; yet I have been advised by Mr. Harcourt that my request for one more term has been denied due my poor billing performance. I was 29 when I signed my first contract and I am now 69 and it appears to me that age descrimination and my failure to use the worthless FACTS and even more worthless TASK TRACKING may also be reasons for the non-renewal. Mr. Harcourt was so good to offer me an agreement wherein he asked I agree for him to sell my office for $5,000 and he would be so kind as to extend me an offer of $2,500 if and when this sale would be completed. I obviously refuse to sign this joke of an offer and am now in process of making my plans to transition. This company was started by Mr. Bill Rocke and what a stand up, handshake, wonderful man who was respected by all who knew him. It is my understanding that health issues caused his sale of Frontier Adjusters to these “merrymaids” who with there great wisdom think the cleaning businesses give them the expertise in the handling of insurance claims. I had many years of loving my job when this company was operated by Bill Rocke and the years have been painful. My remaining time with this company is short and I wish the best for those other “older guys” as it appears that there are more offices of “old men” to be closed as thier contracts become due for renewal. Mr. Rocke had told me 41 years ago that my office would remain my office for as long as I would operate it in a professional manner and that when I got to my older age I would have the opportunity to work as much, or as little, as I wanted.
    Not going to happen! I am totally disgusted by those people in Ohio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *