News National Dick Smith staff ‘punched’ amid gift card furore
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Dick Smith staff ‘punched’ amid gift card furore

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Angry customers have allegedly punched a Dick Smith store employee after the company was put under administration on Tuesday.

Receiver Ferrier Hodgson said it will not honour gift cards or refund deposits on goods, infuriating some customers who now hold worthless investments.

Rather than management feeling the brunt of consumer ire, it was in-store staff who have been allegedly harassed and physically assaulted, Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.

• Dick Smith placed in voluntary administration
• Dick Smith shares drop 60 per cent
• ‘I wouldn’t touch it’: Analysts doubt Dick Smith value

“In the past two days I have been abused and threatened to be shot,” an unnamed store manager said, also describing instances where staff were punched or spat on.

“We’ve had stock thrown at us, people throwing the gift cards at us, people screaming at the top of their lungs.

“It’s the same in every store in my region. It’s been pretty crazy. We’ve had to call security about five times today alone.

“It seems like everyone thinks the front line staff had something to do with it.”

dick smith
Shares in the electrical retailer dropped about 80 per cent before it was put into receivership. Photo: AAP

In the Christmas period, people who bought a Dick Smith gift card from supermarket giants Coles or Woolworths were offered 10 per cent extra on it value. The supermarkets later distanced themselves from the sales.

Furious consumers vented on the Dick Smith Facebook page and many questioned the decision not to honour the cards.

“Dick Smith has clearly crushed consumer confidence,” one wrote, “gift cards sales for other companies will be negatively affected, too. No longer honour its own gift card is the most disgusting thing one can do to its customers!”

“Could someone please take their website down? If they won’t deliver or honor [sic] deposits why are they still selling products? It is absurd,” another said.

Dick Smith, which employs about 3330 people across 393 stores in Australia and New Zealand, first warned in October its full year profit could fall as much as 15 per cent.

Woolworths took over ownership from the company’s founder, Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith, in 1982 for $A25 million. Nearly 30 years later, Anchorage Capital Partners acquired the company for $A20 million after hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on a restructure and 100 stores were closed.

Two years later, when it was floated on the share market, it was worth $A520 million.

The company’s share price plummeted about 80 per cent before it went into receivership.

The collapse came with “seemingly little warning”, according to Independent Senator Nick Xenaphon.

“The corporate watchdog ASIC needs to explain to Australians how this great Australian company went into receivership with seemingly little warning,” Senator Xenophon said.

“We also need to know whether our corporate watchdog has in fact been asleep on the front porch while Dick Smith Holdings unravelled.”

– with AAP

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