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Anybody home at Digitalhome.com.au?

Anybody home at Digitalhome.com.au?

Proprietor seeks legal action against “defamatory” customer reviews on productreview.com.au

The proprietor of electronics e-tailer, digitalhome.com.au, has assured customers and business partners that the company continues to trade, after being alerted to several complaints about its customer service.

Multiple reviewers on consumer advocacy site, www.productreview.com.au, claim to have been waiting several weeks for products ordered on the digitalhome.com.au site. Some said they had been unable to get through to the company's customer service number.

Four phone calls made by this journalist to the e-tailer's 1300 customer service number on April 12 rang out. A fifth was met with an engaged signal.

The e-tailer's proprietor, David Richards, told ARN he was unaware of any problems with the 1300 number supplied on the digitalhome.com.au site. He said he had personally witnessed customer inquiries from that number being fielded on the same day.

"The line is definitely working," he said.

But after testing the line, Richards acknowledged the business may have a problem with handling multiple calls.

"The problem seems to be that once [the operator] is on the line, the call isn't transferring to the next operator," he said. "We've called AAPT and flagged it with them."

As for long waits on orders, Richards blamed the drop-ship systems of his distribution partners.

"We have major distributors listing that products are in stock, but as soon as the customer places an order, they say 'oh no, that product is actually on back order'. My guys are constantly complaining about this," he said.

"They are either not updating their databases, or running their stock-control and their live databases separately. Australian distributors have the worst back-end and CRM that I have ever seen."

Richards is considering legal action over the "absolutely defamatory" customer reviews on productreview.com.au.

"I think these comments are the work of a competitor," he said.

Richards has served notice to the operators of productreview.com.au, threatening legal action if the content is not removed within 24 hours.

Digitalhome.com.au and Smarthouse.com.au

Richards also refuted claims of a conflict of interest between his sole directorship of digitalhome.com.au and his ownership of 4Square Media, which runs the technology news site, smarthouse.com.au. Stories on smarthouse.com.au are regularly linked to the e-tailer's site.

"It's not a conflict of interest, because we [SmartHouse] criticise many of the products we [Digitalhome] sell," he said. "A product is a product. The fact we sell it on digitalhome.com.au doesn't mean we support it on smarthouse.com.au."

Richards said stories that linked the publisher and e-tailer always included a disclaimer noting that he is a director of both companies.

As of the afternoon of April 12, no such disclaimer was attached to a story he wrote titled "Online retailer Digital Home slashes prices by 80 per cent". [http://www.smarthouse.com.au/Real_Hi_Fi/Industry/B2L2C3G2]

"That's because what the story says is fact," Richards said. "We see the Digital Home business as a source of intelligence. It is as legitimate source for a story as any other retailer.

"If another [e-tailer] gave us a press release - if they were prepared to share their numbers with us, we'd run it."


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