Firm resur­faces but debt re­mains

Sunday Star-Times - - BUSINESS - ROB STOCK

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.