Josie Taylor

Three former United Petroleum franchisees are launching legal action against the service station giant, claiming they have been unfairly forced out of their businesses.

One of the franchisees is counter-suing the franchisor, claiming it engaged in unconscionable conduct.

Ram Nijhawan and his wife Kirti thought buying a United Petroleum franchise in Melbourne’s south-east would set their family up for life.

In 2011 the former NAB employee was struggling to juggle full-time work and care for his wife who was recovering from breast cancer and a mastectomy.

“Kirti was never going to return to work full-time so we needed a stable income and to build security for us,” Mr Nijhawan said.

The Nijhawans invested more than $400,000 in a United Petroleum service station franchise at Narre Warren North.

According to court documents, United Petroleum loaned the Nijhawans about half of the purchase price.

But the family’s hopes of running a profitable business with the help of their two sons, both university students, ended in February this year.

“We’re devastated, totally. Financially, emotionally, physically. We have been ruined. We’re finished,” Mr Nijhawan said.

Extracted in full from:  abc.net.au