A takeaway boss is taking on the might of an international online food ordering firm in a battle for business survival.
Syed Alom, 33, has hit out at commission and VAT charges – which he says total 20 percent - imposed on every meal ordered by customers through the Just Eat website.
He fears his Arman Spice outlet, which his family established 12 years ago in South Eldon Street, South Shields, is on the brink of collapse due to the high costs involved.
The dad-of-three admits promoting his business through UK-based Just East for the past six years has brought in extra trade.
But he now believes it is hitting him in the pocket due to the cut its takes on the estimated 50 per cent of orders he receives through the FT-listed firm.
Now, Mr Alom has launched his own online ordering app – and is urging his customers to switch to it and rally to save his business.
He said: "I’m quite desperate – my business is my child, and my child is dying. I think I have about two months left to turn things round.
"Ordering through Just East is easy, but people do not realise how much that company takes on every order.
"I’ve started telling my customers what is happening and I’ve had great support, more of them are coming into the shop to order or are using my app.
"I really believe that through unity and by sticking together we can change things, no matter how big this corporation is.
"I could walk away from Just East but because it has grown to take so many of my orders, that would be too risky at this stage. I need people behind me first.
"I am running out of energy and hope, but I still believe I can turn this around with the support of others."
Mr Alom, from Barnes, Sunderland, says he was one the first businesses in the North East to spot the benefits of partnering with Just Eat.
It allowed him to continue to run his enterprise without the need to install a credit and debit card system, and brought in new custom.
But he says his link with Just Eat - which promotes 30,000 UK restaurants or takeaways through its website and 14.2 million worldwide customers - started to turn sour when he says it increased its commission rate from nine percent to 13 percent, with VAT also to pay.
He says his father, who died in February, had warned him not to work with Just Eat, fearing it would eventually cut in to profits.
In the past few months, family members have left the business, and Mr Alom now works with two full-time chefs and a part-time cook.
But he is hopeful his business will survive if can persuade 80 per cent of customers to order directly at his shop or through his app.
Just Eat, which in May announced a 43 per cent first quarter increase in revenues of £118.9m, said it took its responsibilities to all its business partners seriously.
A spokesman added: "We are aware that partnering with Just Eat has generated significant order growth for our restaurant partner, Arman Spice.
"We look forward to working ever more closely together to ensure the continued success of this business."
"We have a proven track record of helping restaurants accelerate their growth.
"In the last year, we have invested over £40million in marketing and technology to add value to their business on a daily basis.
"Our dedicated Restaurant Services team continue to broker important partnerships with leading companies - including Booker, Funding Circle and Sky - to give our restaurant partners exclusive access to a suite of services and offers, helping them to make significant savings.
"We are delighted to report that a number of our restaurants are now achieving savings that more than offset the rate of commission."