An online electronics retailer has been fined a record $3.15 million after it failed to deliver mobile phones, cameras and other electronic goods to customers across Australia.
Digital Marketing Solutions – which traded online as Android Enjoyed and Camera Sky – and its Hong Kong-based director also failed to repair goods and misled consumers, the NSW Supreme Court found.
NSW Fair Trading received 637 consumer complaints about the company between January 2017 and July 2018.
“Either the goods wouldn’t come, or they wouldn’t come in a timely way or when they did come they weren’t able to be used because something was wrong with them,” NSW Fair Trading commissioner Rose Webb said.
“In some cases, they came with electronic chargers that didn’t actually comply with Australian safety standards.”
Steven Fernandez bought a mobile phone from the company in 2017. After using it for a couple of weeks, he noticed the screen was not responsive, particularly when texting.
He called and emailed the company several times, hoping to receive a full refund, but didn’t get a response.
It was only after he contacted Fair Trading that the company offered to repair the phone, which Mr Fernandez found “frustrating” as he was forced to buy a new phone in the meantime.
“Being a mobile phone it was not something I was prepared to wait around to have repaired – I needed a working phone,” he said.
The Redfern resident said the company should have been willing to provide a new replacement immediately or refund his money as the product had never worked properly.
“The deal initially looked pretty good because it was a cheap phone and exactly what I was looking for but when it didn’t work, it was just a waste of $300.
“I had bought a mobile phone online previously and it was OK but now I’d be hesitant to by something like that online again.”
Research before buying online
The Supreme Court ordered the company to pay a $2.25 million penalty, while its director, Yuen Ho Wong, was fined $900,000 and banned from being a director of any Australian company for two years.
The court also found that Digital Marketing Solutions had made false representations to customers about products being in stock and that products would be delivered within a specific time frame.
“It often took weeks and weeks for them to come if they came at all,” Ms Webb said.
“It also gave the impression that the goods that were in good condition and would work properly and often they didn’t.”
Ms Webb said it was the highest recorded fine for NSW Fair Trading, and warned of an increasing number of complaints about online retailers.
“People are buying more and more online and it’s very opportunistic for people to put things online that look great,” she said.
“I think we would to say from this case is that we would always warn people who are buying things online to do a bit of searching around before they make a purchase and to check reviews about companies.”