A Perth retailer of luxury designer furniture has been ordered to pay a total of $47,387.91 by the Perth Magistrates Court being a fine, costs and compensation after taking payments from consumers but, in most cases, not delivering the goods.
Aura Designs Pty Ltd, trading as Bedrooms by Aura, was fined $10,000 on 14 April 2021 and ordered to pay costs of $1,040 as well as total compensation of $36,347.91 to six consumers. The company was convicted of six charges of accepting payment but failing to deliver within a reasonable time, or not at all, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law. The sole Director Simone Elizabeth Lockett was fined $5,000 and also ordered to pay $1,040 in costs.
The offences occurred from August 2017 to October 2019. The company operated from a showroom in Wangara until October 2019 and took orders from consumers around Australia via their website and Facebook page. The online services are no longer operating and the business has ceased trading.
The Court ordered that compensation amounting to $36,347.91 be paid to six consumers:
- A couple from The Vines ordered various furniture items in August 2017 and paid the full amount of $20,051 but the items were never delivered nor was a refund provided;
- A woman from Brisbane ordered a bed and mirrors in December 2017 and paid the full amount of $3,398. Only some parts of the bed were delivered but were the wrong size, so the correct order was not completed and no refund was provided;
- A man from Sydney ordered a chandelier in January 2018 and paid a 75% deposit of $3,398 but it was never delivered nor was a refund provided;
- A woman from Sydney ordered a bedroom suite and mattress in June 2018 and paid the full amount of $4,599 but never received the items nor was a refund provided;
- A woman from Kureelpa, Queensland ordered a bed and accessories, a fireplace and various other items in June and July 2018 and paid the full amount of $12,046. Only some of the items were delivered and the consumer asked for a refund of $2,902.91 for the outstanding items, which was not provided;
- A woman from Balga ordered a dresser in September 2018 and paid the full amount of $1,999 but this was not delivered nor was a refund provided.
The clients were given many explanations for the delays in delivery such as water damage to the shop, customs issues and shipping disruptions. When refunds were requested, promises were made but no money was ever returned. The partial deliveries stretched over a 12 month period and, at one stage, Ms Lockett ceased contact with the frustrated consumers.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said the behaviour of Bedrooms by Aura and Ms Lockett in these cases is totally unacceptable.
“As a trader, if you demand full payment up front, then you need to make sure that you can deliver the goods and, if you are unable to after a reasonable time, you should be prepared to offer a refund,” Ms Chopping said.
“To do neither is not an option, as it’s a serious breach of the Australian Consumer Law and offenders will face legal action.
“We would caution consumers about paying large deposits and only pay the full price when items are delivered. Paying by credit card if possible gives the added protection of a chargeback if products or services are not provided.”