CHOICE membership

Identifying offshore ecommerce sites


#1

I also want to alert buyers that online shops often have a Australian addressed but it is just a front as all the products come from China or Hong Kong as I discovered with www.refurbishedphones.com.au
There is no Australian phone number to call for service.


#SpotAShonky - Expose Shonky products and services here
#2

I had a look at Refurbiphones.com.au (not www.refurbishedphones.com.au) and it has more red flags than most.
a) no tax invoice is provided for a dodgy reason (eg grey market imports is a furphy). All sales by an Australian business must have tax invoices or the merchant is not in compliance with the ATO.
b) they deliver to Australia using their international courier partner
c) no phone number, and although they reference chat there only appears to be an online email form. An Australian phone number could be answered anywhere in the world, or just go to a voicemail not a human but a number is usually reassuring.
d) Their T&C are at https://refurbiphones.com.au/pages/terms-and-conditions and 15.5 states order only from Australia and NZ, but the prices can be selected in many currencies. Curious, that.
Then there is the big one,
23. Our details
23.1 www.refurbiphones.com.au is the trading name for UDS Limited incorporated in Hong Kong. Registered Address: Unit A & B, 27/F, Billion Plaza II, 10 Cheung Yue Street, Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon, Hong Kong. This address does not accept any return of goods.

The only contact on the public site is indeed the ‘help’ that is but an online form.

Those photos of the warehouse could be anybody’s, and this mob might have a leased shelf and mail receipt services. Note the lack of signage.

That was probably the best thing you could have done. Good luck with that.


#3

The payment was made to Digi Inspiration Pty Ltd which is probably the shelf company in Australia? What do you mean by grey imports are a furphy? Have not heard of the term grey imports.


#4

According to the ACCC “Parallel imports (also called grey or direct imports) are products that you buy from a seller who does not have specific permission from the manufacturer to sell those products in the Australian marketplace.” In other words they are brought in via a supply chain other than through the ‘authorised Australia distributor’.

See parallel imports info at ACCC


#5

Thank you. Sure learn something new everyday!


#6

I will add a few more flags for other readers new to the thread who might be buying from off shore sites.

Digi Inspirations is not registered for GST but is an Australian registered business. A google on that company name returns refurbiphones.com.au and the ABN lookup information. ASIC is not helpful unless one is willing to pay. (Another case of our our tax dollars hard at work making ‘product’ for us to buy, but that should be another topic)

An Australian company needs to be registered for GST if their turnover exceeds $75,000 p.a., and since they are not registered they are more likely a very small operation, or not in compliance.

Whilst perusing their web site it virtually assaults one with recent orders showing [name] from [place]. If those were dinkum I could not imagine that one of the following is not applicable - they are misrepresenting orders or they are not in compliance with GST. $75,000/365 is only $205.50 per day, an average of 1 or 2 sales per day?

Further their warranty is their in-house Hong Kong warranty not Australia and no reference to the normal Australian disclaimers and assurances, nor mention of the ACL.

I hope pointing out such flags may be helpful for some. At the end of the day some of these offshore sites are reliable and trustworthy and just seem dodgy from what I politely would call amateurism, while others are just dodgy and could deliver product as advertised or otherwise, but neither service nor warranty.

Last advice is never pay by direct deposit given any other choice, avoid sites that only take direct deposit (nb. this is not one of them), and start disputes sooner than later if you become uncomfortable with your transaction.

Keep the odds in your favour by checking web site / company reviews and for bona fide details to know who and what you are dealing with to the best of your ability. You make your bet and take your chances case by case.

I hope this helped at least one reader, cheers.


#7

It can sometimes be hard to identify whether a particular business is actually registered for GST.

Sometimes a company will be a trustee for a family trust, and whilst the company is not registered for GST, the trust will be, and neither the company nor the trust will incorporate the businesses’ trading name in their names.

In such cases it can be a wild goose chase unless one can obtain a copy of an invoice or tax invoice from that business.


#8

Another suggestion for those who want to know if they can trust particular websites. There is a browser plugin called Web of Trust (WOT), that you can find in your browser’s add-on store. People who use the plugin identify which places they do or do not trust, and the more feedback there is the better.

Important caveat: WOT got in trouble a couple of years ago - it was funding itself by selling user data that was not adequately anonymised. The company has since updated its plugins, as described in its Wikipedia entry.

Unfortunately, the smaller a website is the less likely it is that anyone has rated it using WOT.


#9

There has been a happy result from my bad experience with refurbiphones. I went through PayPal Dispute resolution and they have advised I send all the items I received from Digi Inspiration Pty Ltd and I will get a full refund! Maybe i should wait till i get the money in my PayPal account before celebrating.


#10

Defiitely. Do not count on it till you get the refund.

See what happened to another person buying from Officeworks refund-problems-for-paypal-purchases


#11

I did celebrate too early. The seller refused to pick up my return from the post office as the post office left a card for collection to the company. PayPal said my tracking number was invalid as the parcel didn’t get to the destination and they closed the dispute case. I am awaiting the parcel to come back.


#12

If your paypal is linked to a credit card you might lodge a dispute on your card, but it seems a catch-22 because paypal will more than likely report ‘no worries, all sorted’ to your card issuer.


#13

I was told by PayPal staff member to take it up with my bank as you suggested but I was too emotionally exhausted to persue the matter further. I decided to make peace with the bad experience. When I get the phone back I will see if it can be repaired as the repair cost might still make it cheaper than trying to by a new phone. I really wish the librarian who did the research on shonky online sellers would go to the press or TV to warn others.


#14

Their website indicated that they have a Australian address: unit 6 52 Corporate Blvd, Bayswater VIC 3153.

A company called Down Under Watches nominates this address on their website as their business address. No surprises that Down Under Watches is also states that the postal address is to IDS Company Pty Ltd (SE020) Unit 6, 52 Corporate Boulevard, Bayswater VIC 3153 Australia

Looks like in the past Exponline (former Refurbishphones.com.au) had indicated other customer to return the phone to this Bayswater address.

I have been unable to find a phone number for this address, but maybe if you live in Melbourne you may be able to drop around to this address and see if IDS Company Pty Ltd/Digi Inspiration Pty Ltd operate from that address…and see if they can answer some questions.

The DownUnderWatches .com appears to have had a business address in Sydney in the past and this had a phone number: (02) 8091 5390.

It may be worth while trying this number as well.

It is also worth noting that it is very easy and cheap to register an ABN in Australia. Doing such makes it look like the business is a local, Australian operated business. In reality it may not be the case as evident from both refurbishedphones.com.au and downunderwatches.com.

I suspect that these two companies are one and the same.


#15

My recommendation would be to persist with getting your money refunded by PayPal.

As I mentioned on this website, Refurbiphones has a disgraceful rating on Product Review.

Trip Advisor now has 24 terrible reviews, 2 good reviews and 3 excellent reviews for them, and I would not trust the good or excellent reviews.

As I also mentioned in the above Choice Community topic, PayPal is your best bet for recovering your money, especially if your credit card insurer is CBA or anyone else as useless as them.

Contact PayPal in writing, either by email or snail mail, and set out all your info about this issue, and bring their attention to this scammer’s disgraceful reputation on Product Review.


#16

Google reviews for Down Under Watches

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=down+under+watches+review&rlz=1C1SQJL_enAU794AU794&oq=Down+Under+Watches&aqs=chrome.1.0l6.2733j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#lrd=0x6b12ae38d2c28581:0xb01e798622c91b06,1,,,


#17

Paypal gave me an address in Sydney to send the parcel to Digi Inspiration Pty Ltd. The company on the dodgy receipt. It was affecting my mental health trying to get my money back so when PayPal closed my case despite the evidence I provided, I just thought it was all too much. I just cut my loses. PayPal doesn’t care, they aren’t losing anything. These shonky companies hide under different names and reappear when they get shut down.


#18

I agree with @TheBBG, and with PayPal: Go to your bank! Have everything documented and provide all the supporting documentation, including what you have from the P.O. with the tracking number. They should be more sympathetic to your plight than PayPal. [The banks will want to be seen to be doing the right thing after the Royal Commission.]

Some years ago, I had an issue with PayPal after an unscrupulous eBay seller refused to collect my return from a PO agency. The item was returned to me by Australia Post because it wasn’t collected, AND had the charge reversed by the bank. :smile: Unfortunately, the device was as shonky as the seller. Still a win!!


#19

Thank you . I will take it on board and glad to hear you had a good result.