Firm resurfaces but debt remains
Tracy Smith is owed $755.56 plus interest. That’s the sum she paid in 2015 to the MobiCity online business to send her a Samsung phone.
MobiCity never sent the phone, and the business, which was based overseas, dropped out of sight.
But three years later, Smith got a Facebook notification saying the MobiCity page had relaunched as BuyMobile NZ, owned by Australian sharemarket-listed company Amaysim, worth A$225 million (NZ$246m).
But Amaysim (a near homophone to the word amazing) does not appear to plan to pay her the money she’s owed.
A spokesman for the business would only say: ‘‘This issue predates Amaysim’s ownership. Amaysim did not own MobiCity or BuyMobile in 2015.’’
He would not explain why Amaysim did not have liability for unfulfilled orders despite now claiming ‘‘ownership’’ of MobiCity.
Gisborne resident Smith, who complained in 2015 to the Commerce Commission, was amazed to hear again from the retailer that had left her $755.56 poorer. She wasn’t the only Kiwi to be burnt by the company.
‘‘On Friday I was notified by my Facebook account that MobiCity had changed their name to BuymobileNZ,’’ she said.
‘‘I promptly got hold of them via the live chat function on their new website to ask for my refund,’’ she said.
The initial response was encouraging.
‘‘Your MobiCity record is still being requested for us to be able to trace and investigate what happened to the order,’’ it read.
On Tuesday, Smith contacted BuyMobile again, and got another response, also encouraging.
‘‘MobiCityNZ is no longer in operation so an investigation will need to be completed before any refunds can be processed or a resolution reached,’’ she was told.
The matter had been escalated to management and the accounts team, the message said.
But on Wednesday, BuyMobile told her that her problems preceded Amaysim taking over MobiCity. She would not be getting her money back.
Until the Facebook notification she’d given up hopes of seeing her money again, despite having asked the Commerce Commission to investigate.
Rachael Horton, manager, intelligence and screening branch, wrote to tell her: ‘‘At the time we received your complaint, we undertook an initial assessment and decided that the issues you raised may be appropriate for further investigation.’’
But, Horton continued: ‘‘Since our initial assessment, other matters have come to the commission’s attention that are a higher priority, and as a result, we do not have resources available to investigate your complaint.’’
There wasn’t much Smith could do. Pursuing an overseas business for money is a forlorn hope for an individual.
‘‘I’m owed $755, and I’m not big enough to fight this on my own. I’m just one person,’’ Smith said.
MobiCity’s new owner Amaysim’s share price has been languishing, but it’s still a major operation, recording an A$22.4m ($24.5m) profit in the year to the end of June on revenues of A$577m (NZ$629m).
‘‘$600 million? All I want is $755,’’ Smith said.
The commission said it hadn’t received any complaints about MobiCity since early 2016 when it ceased operations.
Buying items from overseas retailers online can be risky, the commission said.
‘‘Online retail is one of the priority focus areas for the commission and we continue to see instances of consumers being misled or not receiving items they have paid for, particularly from overseas companies,’’ a spokesman said.
‘‘It’s important consumers take some time to research online retailers to assure themselves they’re purchasing goods from a reputable business.’’
‘‘I’m owed $755, and I’m not big enough to fight this on my own. I’m just one person.’’ Tracy Smith
The relaunch of MobiCity Facebook page as BuyMobile NZ, left, surprised creditor Tracy Smith. It is now owned by ASXlisted company Amaysim, which says her complaint predates its acquisition.