7-Eleven coronavirus aid is an illusion, franchisees say after owner dies

The NCASEF said 7-Eleven’s COVID-19 response is “misleading”

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A group representing the franchise owners of 7-Eleven convenience stores wants more coronavirus support from the chain's parent company in the wake of a New Jersey shopkeeper's death from COVID-19.

The National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees is calling out the convenience chain's response to the coronavirus pandemic, is financially misleading and is just a way for the company to generate good publicity for its brand, the franchisee coalition said in a statement released Thursday. The company has pledged $95 million to it franchise owners.

“It is misleading to say 7-Eleven is giving its franchisees $95 million to cope with the COVID–19 pandemic,” Jaspreet Dhillon, the group’s treasurer wrote on the website. “The actual amount of cash we are receiving is a lot less, and in no way covers our losses. This is really a support plan for the stores and not the franchisees. It is an illusion to generate public relations for the company.”

In response, 7-Eleven said it continues to provide cleaning supplies, face masks, thermometers and social-distancing floor decals. It also plans to install sneeze-guards at registers.

The company also said in a press release that it enhanced its paid time off policy for corporate store employees to provide support and comfort to those who fall ill or are at risk of illness.

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And in a statement sent to FOX Business, a 7-Eleven spokesperson said the company’s primary focus is supporting franchisees and stores.

“We are proud and inspired by the leadership and commitment to customers that each Franchisee has shown since the health crisis began by providing food, beverages, and other critical supplies to the communities they serve,” they said.

“While we have stressed to franchisees that during this pandemic they have the choice to remain open or closed based on what is best for them and their stores, the vast majority have shared with us that they want to stay open in order to continue to serve their customers and provide employment for their employees, who count on them.”

The company also said it is holding daily calls with franchisees and working “side-by-side” in stores across the country to provide them proper support and essentials.

“We depend on these open lines of communication between Franchisees and 7-Eleven, Inc. to move quickly to solve challenges as the pandemic has progressed. It’s been truly inspiring to see what has been possible in local communities across America because 7-Eleven, Inc. and franchisees have worked together. Given the impressive efforts of 7-Eleven Franchisees and the brand, it is truly unfortunate that the NCASEF trade association is spending their time engaging in politics rather than focusing on supporting the Brand and other Franchisees during this crisis.”

The NCASEF did not immediately respond to a request for comment from FOX Business.

7-Eleven said it has committed nearly $95 million to support franchisees providing essential services to their communities, including direct payment of credits that would result in millions of dollars in cash flow assistance to franchisees now and in coming months.

“These adjustments include direct payments of operations credits to franchisees, waiving the April advertising fee, waiving interest franchisees pay on their inventory and passing along third-party renegotiated maintenance fees,” the company told CSP Daily News.

The NCASEF, however, said franchisees are not getting needed support.

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The operations credit of $5,000 for April represents $37 million of the total, for example, but is only available to franchisees who stay open at least 16 hours a day, according to the coalition. And stores in hard-hit areas like New York may not be able to stay open to qualify, the group said.

The franchisee who died had been in the 7-Eleven system for several years.

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This story has been updated to include a comment from 7-Eleven.