AST has continued its fall from grace by removing all support for New Zealand users of its products and won't be selling AST machines in New Zealand, says former New Zealand managing director Peter Uffindell. And it seems the problem has crossed the Tasman to Australia.
Uffindell now runs Cormorant Distributors and until recently has been distributing AST products in New Zealand. Now, he says, there's nothing to distribute.
"The AST product manager left the other day and he's our last contact. I guess all of the AST people have disappeared," he said.
Although he's had no formal notification of an end to the AST contract, Uffindell says he has had informal talks with various company members and has seen the writing on the wall. "It's a pretty despicable situation," he said.
Uffindell cites AST's actions as the main reason he's had to lay off four staff members. He points the finger at parent company Samsung. "I think they are caught up in South Korea's problems," he said.
Samsung's general manager for information technology, Stefan Wasinski, said AST's factories in Ireland and China have closed, as well as the make-to-order factory in Hong Kong. He said his company was unable to guarantee supply of AST products and that Samsung had told its distributors to make other arrangements.
"As far as we're concerned, AST decided to shut its doors in Australia," he said.
"We're implementing an 'umbrella' provider for service and support for AST products in Australia and New Zealand. That process will be finished at the end of February and we'll be in a better position to service our existing customers."
In the meantime, Wasinski says New Zealand users should continue to access what service and support they can through existing channels. He also says no new AST machines will be sold in either Australia or New Zealand.