Ugly stoush between college and ex-student over second-hand uniforms

Author
Ryan Dunlop, NZ Herald,
Section
Education,
Publish Date
Monday, 4 March 2019, 1:26p.m.
Former student of Macleans College Jayson Fong is in a scrap with his old school over selling second-hand school uniforms. (Photo / Supplied)
Former student of Macleans College Jayson Fong is in a scrap with his old school over selling second-hand school uniforms. (Photo / Supplied)

A former Macleans College student is locked in a scrap with his old school over plans to sell second-hand uniforms online.

Jayson Fong, who graduated from the Bucklands Beach school in 2017, said the uniforms sold by the official supplier were too expensive and he wanted to under-cut them to provide students with a better deal.

But the school is fighting back - and is reviewing how Fong was able to get hold of a large number of students' emails that he used to promote his business.

The stoush has threatened to get ugly, with Fong claiming he was threatened with deportation by a school staff member.

When he was a student, he had struggled to afford school uniforms, Fong said, adding the only place to purchase them was expensive.

Pricing for new uniforms can be found on the school's website - new blazer costs $230, but students can purchase a second-hand option for $120, or rent one for $80 a year, the website says.

Fong, seeing a gap in the market, collected around 60 sets of uniforms in 2018 with the intent to sell them cheaper.

Soon after he began spreading the word on Facebook he alleges he received a call from a school staffer.

He alleged he was threatened to be reported to Immigration and advised he may get deported.

Macleans College principal Steven Hargreaves confirmed the email from Fong had been deleted by the school and that the school would look into how Fong sent the mass email. Photo / Doug Sherring

Macleans College principal Steven Hargreaves confirmed the email from Fong had been deleted by the school and that the school would look into how Fong sent the mass email. Photo / Doug Sherring

"[The staff member] told me if I don't stop [they] will contact Immigration and get me deported," he said.

Scared of deportation he ceased the practise and gave the uniforms away, but a year later he decided to pick it back up.

Fong claimed he made no profit from the sales, and did it solely to provide competition for the uniform shop.

Now, a second-year engineering student at University of Auckland, he had developed an app that he describes as "Trade Me for second-hand clothing".

Last month, to get the message out to students at Macleans, he said he used the school email address of a friend who graduated in 2018 to send a message to all students.

The school then deleted the email from all student email inboxes that received it.

He then sent another email to the school via a personal Gmail account which he said were deleted before he was blocked from the school domain.

The day after the final email was sent, principal Steve Hargreaves called Fong to discuss the issues, a call that Fong secretly recorded.

The heated conversation highlighted Hargreaves' concern about what he believed to be Fong's underhanded approach to spread the message through a school email.

At the end of the conversation, Hargreaves offered to hear out Fong in six months and reconsider his business proposal then.

Hargreaves, who became the school's principal last year, confirmed to the Herald that Fong had sent an email from another ex-student's email.

He also confirmed the first email sent was deleted from the inbox of students; as well as the email sent from Fong's own Gmail address.

Hargreaves said he was trying to find out how Fong managed to get his hands on a mailing list that included so many students.

The school would be reviewing that, he said.

Macleans College board of trustees chair Richard Wilkie said the board will investigate claims of Fong being threatened with deportation and the use of an ex-students email. Photo / David Rowland

Macleans College board of trustees chair Richard Wilkie said the board will investigate claims of Fong being threatened with deportation and the use of an ex-students email. Photo / David Rowland

The school uniform shop was not being held to a monopoly by a single supplier, he said, and the school had looked into alternative options but had decided they were not reliable.

Hargreaves also added he had no idea his conversation with Fong has been recorded.

"Look if you are a professional that marketed your business legally and professionally then I would talk to you. But at the moment you just seem like some person who wants to muckrake and cause trouble," he says in the recording.

Macleans College board of trustees chairman Richard Wilkie said any student could sell second-hand uniforms through social media or other avenues, they were not limited to buying from the uniform shop.

He took Fong's allegation that someone had threatened to deport him seriously and would investigate it.

"What really concerns me is that he has been contacted that he would be deported. We should see if that actually happened."

The matter would be brought before the board for discussion tomorrow.

He also had concerns of a privacy breach following the use of the still-active school email.

"My view if a student is left, then he should have no more access. If he wanted to he could go to the alumni where you have to seek permission."

 

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