Brisbane-based online reseller, i-Central, has been given a public fair trade warning following a spike in customer complaints.
Queensland Fair Trading Minister, Margaret Keech, recently exercised her powers under the Fair Trading Act to warn consumers about dealing with the reseller. In a statement to ARN, the Minister said the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) had received 104 consumer complaints about i-Central since 2001.
These included customers experiencing delays in receipt of goods and refunds, receipt of goods which were not ordered and non-receipt of goods and refunds.
"Prior to January, i-Central generally resolved complaints directly with customers, resulting in delivery of the goods or refunds," she said. "Since the company closed its retail premises in January we have received more than 40 complaints."
i-Central is owned by Cyber Village Pty Ltd, of which Troy Raymond Ellis is the sole director, Keech said.
The Minister said the OFT had made several attempts to work with i-Central to address the source of growing consumer complaints, but the company and Ellis had failed to suitably amend trading practices.
Ellis had advised the OFT that neither he nor i-Central had funds available to resolve outstanding customer complaints, she said.
"Public naming is a serious step and not one I take lightly," she said. "In this case it was in the public interest that I warned consumers about i-Central." The public warning was the first time the Office had been taken action against the company or Ellis, Keech said.
With the OFT not empowered to close or repossess a business, Keech said it instead continued to urge consumers who had not received paid-for goods or services to come forward and make a formal complaint.
"Consumers have the option of lodging a claim against Mr Ellis to the Small Claims Tribunal," she said. "Further enforcement action, such as prosecution, can only be taken where there is evidence of a breach of OFT legislation - a delay in the supply of goods is not a breach."
Nobody at i-Central was available for comment at the time of going to press.