SINGAPORE - Order Sarpino's pizza over the phone and you could end up getting pizza with an unfamiliar brand - Pezzo.
This was what happened to some Sarpino's customers after they used the hotline number featured on its website to make their orders.
As it turns out, there were two Sarpino's websites with just a minor difference in their domain names. One is www.sarpinos.sg and the other www.sarpinos.com.sg
No wonder some customers got confused. Those who went to www.sarpinos.sg got their Sarpino's pizza fix while those who dialled the hotline number on www.sarpinos.com.sg ended up with Pezzo pizza.
How did this come about?
The New Paper's checks showed that Sarpino's Singapore was taken over by Belgarath Investments early this year. A new website, www.sarpinos.sg, and hotline number were introduced as part of the change.
But, for some reason, the original website www.sarpinos.com.sg continued to exist.
There are similarities in the colour scheme and design of the two websites but there is a note on sarpinos.sg that it is the official Sarpino's website.
The changes were also announced on the Sarpino's Facebook page and advertisements in various media since June.
But Sarpino's customers who had saved the old hotline number or went to www.sarpinos.com.sg were directed to Pezzo Pizza instead.
Miss Shaurya Sinha was one of them. She used to order from Sarpino's at least once a month.
The 19-year-old undergraduate said that when she called the old Sarpino's hotline number, she was told it was Pezzo Pizza.
"I asked if it was Sarpino's and they kept insisting it was Pezzo. I was confused but I just gave up and told them my orders.
"When the pizza arrived, it was in a Pezzo box. I went to the Sarpino's Facebook page to check and found out that it had changed its number."
A customer wrote to citizen journalism website Stomp about a "fake website". This article was posted in Sarpino's Singapore Facebook page on Tuesday but removed a few hours later.
Called old number
One customer claimed he did not even get the pizza he ordered last month from Pezzo after calling the old Sarpino's number.
Undergraduate Goh Wei Choon said he thought that Pezzo was related to Sarpino's and went ahead with his order.
He said the deliveryman told him to go down in five minutes, but when he did, he waited for 30 minutes without getting his order "because the delivery guy didn't have a handphone and he didn't bother waiting for us".
The 24-year-old regular of Sarpino's was also "alarmed" that Pezzo had his delivery details.
He made a complaint on the Sarpino's Singapore website and was told that Pezzo was not affiliated to Sarpino's.
Similar complaints from other customers can be found on Sarpino's Facebook page.
Sarpino's Singapore Facebook page announced in January that Sarpino's has been purchased by a "locally based restaurant group (operators of Chili's Restaurants, founding franchisee of Subway)".
Sarpino's is an international pizza chain founded by Canadian Gerry Koutougos in 2001, with outlets in North America, Asia, Australia and Europe.
Checks on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) website showed that Sarpino's Pizzeria, which was registered in 2004, changed its name to Macy Foods in June.
Its director is Mr Mohamad Yusof Kamarudin. It was reported by Berita Harian in 2004 that he was Sarpino's franchise chief for the Asia-Pacific region.
According to Acra, Pezzo was registered in August last year. It has 14 kiosks islandwide. It is understood that Pezzo is related to the old management of Sarpino's Singapore.
When contacted about the website confusion, a Pezzo spokesman said: "We are unfortunately unable to comment or respond to your queries because of private and confidential discussions that are ongoing."
Mr Greg Blakney, the CEO of Belgarath Investments and Grandko Restaurants, also declined comment.
TNP understands that legal action could be pending between the two parties.
The old website www.sarpinos.com.sg was taken down on Tuesday, with a "website maintenance" sign greeting visitors.
Hotline number still operating
But the old Sarpino's hotline number was still operating yesterday, with callers still being directed to Pezzo.
When TNP called the number, the person who answered clarified that it was Pezzo when asked if it was Sarpino's.
Veteran lawyer Chia Boon Teck thinks there are two ways in which this situation could have come about.
One could be that the contract for the takeover by the new management did not cover the details of running the business.
"Contracts should be drafted by a lawyer but some people choose to DIY and draft their own agreements. They are bound to be inadequate," he said.
The other scenario could be that clear terms were included in the contract but one party did not comply with it, deliberately or unwittingly, Mr Chia said.
Consumers Association of Singapore executive director Seah Seng Choon said it had not received any complaints from customers but he advised them to make sure they know who they are ordering from.
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