Recently, A Current Affair received an influx of emails about an online business created in Australia called Home Appliances Plus.
Elsewhere, the product reviews online were scathing.
Customers claimed they’d been left out of pocket after buying items that hadn’t shown up.
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Home Appliances Plus seems like a one-stop shop.
It claims to offer up to 70 per cent off everything from outdoor furniture, gym equipment and electronics, to jewellery, kids’ toys and clothing.
It appears to target Aussie customers on multiple social media platforms, with thousands across the country purchasing items since it was created in April last year.
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But now, the complaints are flooding in and A Current Affair has received emails daily from customers who claim after weeks of waiting, their items haven’t arrived.
They’re angry and disappointed and want answers from the company – and for the website to be shut down.
“Either cough up the funds and refund it to everybody or, you know, operate their business appropriately and let people know what’s going on,” Sydney-based customer Di Williams said.
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Williams was searching for exercise equipment online when she stumbled across Home Appliances Plus.
After finding the website quick and easy to navigate, she bought a rowing machine and bedside cabinets for $330.
“There was some sort of mention on the website that there were delays due to COVID-19,” she said.
Williams waited for three weeks before emailing the company to ask what happened.
“And if the order wasn’t going to be filled, could it be refunded please? I didn’t receive any reply and I tried to call using the phone number from the website. And that phone number was constantly engaged,” Williams told A Current Affair.
Dave was looking for an animal cage online when an advertisement for Home Appliances Plus popped up.
Drawn in by the cheaper price, he purchased the item.
“It was professional, it was quick – two or three clicks. I put my credit card in and got the confirmation order pretty much straight away,” Queensland-based Dave told A Current Affair.
But he said it still hasn’t arrived.
“They need to stop taking orders and start paying refunds or giving people what they asked for,” he said.
The 54-year-old has since lodged a complaint with the Office of Fair Trading Queensland.
“This just needs to stop or be halted really quickly just so nobody from here on in, gets affected and possibly from here on in, this company cleans up their mess,” Dave said.
Andrew Lea is another angry customer, who’s also a forensic accountant.
“This is costing people that can ill afford it,” Lea said.
“Every time you threaten them with taking some action, they say, ‘Oh, no, no, we’re shipping today and we’re shipping out tomorrow’, but it doesn’t happen,” Lea said.
When his items failed to arrive after more than a month, he contacted Home Appliances Plus for answers, only to be met with generic replies.
“You know it’s in the warehouse, it’s about to leave, we’ve got COVID, our carriers let us down, we are unable to find the tracking number from the carrier,” he said.
That’s when Lea began questioning the legitimacy of the company.
“I looked at some other websites, review sites and there’s just pages and pages and pages,” Lea said.
More than 1000 customers have left comments about the company on productreview.com.au.
“Avoid at all costs, ordered a fridge never received it, tried to get a refund … they kept avoiding my emails so have taken them to the ACCC,” one customer wrote.
“High risk, do not buy from them, emails for delivery confirmation constantly ignored. The chat provided the same response each week.”
And currently, the star rating is very low at just 1.4 out of five.
However, there are a small number of customers who said after a long delay their goods finally arrived.
A company search revealed Home Appliances Plus started in April last year.
The ABN is linked to Steel and Water Pty Ltd, with directors listed as Richard Edwards and Ashley Fabics, who are based in Tasmania and Victoria.
What customers don’t realize is it’s a drop shipping company.
“A drop shipping business basically carries no inventory and has no stores, no warehouse. So the costs are much lower for those businesses,” Professor Gary Mortimer from Queensland University of Technology Business School said.
“The challenge, of course, that creates is if the manufacturer has supply chain issues, they have an impact on your customer and that has a negative impact on your brand.”
We tried the company’s phone lines but all we got was an automated message.
So we contacted director Edwards, but after getting no answers from him we called fellow director Fabics.
“We’ve got nothing to say at the moment, we’re trying to, ah, organize everything … we are refunding orders, but that’s all I can tell you at the moment,” Fabics said.
The Home Appliances Plus website domain is registered to ECommerce Commodities.
Brothers Grant and Klint Parker are directors and run drop shipping courses online.
A Current Affair isn’t suggesting the brothers are involved in operating Home Appliances Plus, but perhaps those who do could use a refresher course.
“Perhaps they could have a look at what they’re doing and how (they) would they feel if this was happening to them,” Williams said.
“It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got, it doesn’t matter how many toys you’ve got, how many cars you’ve got, how many houses you’ve got, you’ve got nothing if you ‘ve lost your good name,’ Lea said.
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