Aussie reseller under siege in NZ

Aussie reseller under siege in NZ

Foul-smelling odours from the decomposing remains of second-hand computer dealer Business Boost continue to permeate the air, making it difficult for others attempting to follow in its steps.

One such second-hand computer dealer doing it tough at the moment is Sydney-based StarWorks Marketing and Promotions, run by Teri Milosovic, a former employee of Business Boost.

Having mounted a television campaign in New Zealand to expand the business, the company was overwhelmed by orders and is now the subject of inquiries by a consumer body in that country.

After unfavourable newspaper and television exposure, StarWorks certainly appears to be getting a backlash from the recent saga involving second-hand computer dealer Business Boost and its mastermind, Perry Tait, who is himself a New Zealander.

Milosovic claims she left Business Boost in disgust at what was happening to its thousands of customers who jammed Fair Trading and talkback radio switchboards in Australia with tales of woe about their computer purchases.

She recognised a genuine opportunity in reselling pre-loved computers and it has to be said that if Business Boost did one thing, it identified a huge demand for cheap computers.

The StarWorks Web site says it sells "ex-Government, famous brand, fully reconditioned Intel 486 computers like IBM, Compaq and Digital".

Ironically, they also market wheelbarrows from the same Web site.

A spokesperson for StarWorks claimed the only similarity between it and Business Boost is the selling of used PCs and using television to market them. StarWorks was running with what it called "an opportunity" and extended the methodology to New Zealand which appears to be where the problems started.

Following the publicity received by Business Boost's demise (on both sides of the Tasman), the watchdogs were on the lookout for anything similar.

Ratings opportunity

Being an emotive subject, a couple of prominent media outlets in New Zealand espied a ratings opportunity and took a set against StarWorks.

They openly attacked the company, portraying it as one that was misleading customers and not delivering on promises.

One national TV broadcaster and a mainstream newspaper ran unfavourable stories which StarWorks claims to have been "unfair, provocative, biased and sensational", according to Chamberlains, the New Zealand law firm acting for the Australian company.

A media spokesperson for the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) (the Department of Fair Trading equivalent) said it "started court action against them [StarWorks] in February", under the New Zealand Fair Trading Act.

He said the action was in relation to second-hand computers being advertised on New Zealand TV and "many" complaints to the NZCC. He couldn't confirm the exact number but said it was "in the region of 30 to 40".

"The Commissioner is alleging they were advertising falsely and has filed a statement of claim," the spokesperson said. "It is about the accuracy of information. The Act prohibits false and misleading claims and we are alleging that they have done that."

StarWorks denies any impropriety and claims it is simply a case of not having sufficient infrastructure in place for what was a higher-than-expected initial demand.

New Zealanders doing a bit of Aussie bashing was also offered as a reason and legal action is pending against the newspaper and TV station, StarWorks said.

The spokesperson for the company reiterated it was simply trying to pursue a genuine business opportunity and deliver inexpensive systems to people who may otherwise not be able to afford a computer.

Nicholas Porter from Chamberlains confirmed he had been instructed to pursue suits against the media outlets in which StarWorks appeared.

It is not uncommon for the media outlets in which StarWorks appeared to take a provocative stance as ratings are the key motivator, Porter said.

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