Online websites that appear Australian but are not

I bought a therapy light from Ninelife.au for around $600. It came from the US and needed a step down transformer to be used here. Less than 3 months later it stopped working. Ninelife says they will not refund or replace unless it is returned within two weeks of purchase. The US manufacturer will not give warranty to purchases from other websites. As it is not based in Australia it seems consumer protection laws do not apply. Does anyone else have experience with this?

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A related topic is

Reality is that regardless of rules it is increasingly difficult to discover where a web site is hosted and what country the business legally operates in (ie. for service of legal notices) except by reading the T&C or other pages that can be mind numbing to wade through.

Ninelife.au is not resolved as a URL while an internet search clearly shows Ninelife.com. The ‘Australia’ is au.ninelife.com as done by many global companies, some respected multinationals and some scammers.

https://ninelife.com/pages/about-us

The only ‘Australia’ linkage on their contact page is a mobile phone number. The bricks and mortar offices are in the US, UK, HK, and IN. Their claims are ambit but on inspection far from persuasive.

Researching companies prior to doing business can be revealing.

The ASIC register also returns a NineLife Australia Pty Ltd in Glen Waverley VIC, but it seems unrelated. Although it was registered in July 2020 there is no information on the web and getting more from ASIC is at a cost.

It is not unusual for warranties to be limited to the country of origin or purchase unless the warranty is stipulated as an international one, and then must be read to see what it really means. The US does not have anything exactly like the ACL. Americans sometimes can get satisfaction contacting the Better Business Bureau although it is unlikely this company will respond favourably based on the reviews on the net.

Your $600 might need to be written off as an educational experience?

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15 posts were merged into an existing topic: Buying Electrical Goods From Off-shore E-Commerce Sites

Was that the actual address? I can’t find any site to do with ninelife that is a .au domain.

There isn’t one.
Although

NineLife is one of the largest online retailers of health, grocery, and personal care products in Australia, offering our customers a selection of more than 150,000 health products selected for their quality and demand. Our inventory is entirely curated for our customers, which means we stock only what you want, making sure to constantly be updating to bring in the best and most high demand products.

It pays as @PhilT has previously suggested to look beyond the opening pages.
The mobile number with an Aussie prefix could be redirected anywhere!

P.S.
Note I’ve edited the topic title to remove the opening reference to .au
It’s not part of the NineLife web address, and only appears in the name of the mailbox attached to that service, where-ever that is hosted. Refer to @PhilT post following 2 on.

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No. The site is Ninelife Au.com. I agree it has been an educational experience

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For clarity the site is ninelife.com advertising itself as ‘Ninelife Australia’ to search engines and on its web site.

image

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And note also the Australian TV channel, 9Life, accessed from https://www.9now.com.au/, that is presumably nothing to do with the company referred to in the OP.

My suggestion when dealing with ambiguous web sites … does it have an ABN (or ACN) or can you get one out of them? Can you verify the provided number on the ASIC web site? (That won’t address an outright scam but it does at least uncover web sites that are selling in Australia but basically have no connection with Australia.)

It is also useful to ask them where they ship from.

A web site is not “Australian” unless the domain name ends in .au and even then recent rule changes (some would say greed and mismanagement) make that less of an indication than it used to be. (However whether the web site is Australian is not as important as whether the company is Australian.)

Where the web site is hosted is not relevant. Completely legitimate Australian web sites may choose to host overseas. Larger (high traffic) web sites, whether Australian or not, may use a Content Distribution Network, so that the hosting location is fairly meaningless anyway.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing business with overseas companies. I’ve imported goods on a number of occasions. However you have to be realistic about what consumer protections will apply and how convenient it will be if you have to deal with the company for refund or return purposes.

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I believe this is the website address

https://au.ninelife.com

which @PhilT posted above.

The ‘au’ in au.ninelife.com is part of the registered URL name and shouldn’t be confused with URLs ending with .au. The later would indicate business operating in Australia registration.

And an expensive one as being an overseas based company, they are likely to ignore the Australian Consumer Guarantee. As the ACCC, indicates there is little you will be able to do especially since your purchase will be outside most card issuer’s (90 day) chargeback period. It might he worth checking with your card issuer to see if they are more generous than the period since purchase…and if it is, whether there is an option to pursue a chargeback based on your individual case.

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Thanks. I will try everything. Even though I don’t anticipate a refund I would like to annoy them and spread the word about poor customer service

If the opportunity still exists for a chargeback, AFCA provides some useful information about the chargeback process :

https://www.afca.org.au/coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-support-hub/banking-and-finance/factsheet-chargebacks

as well as Choice:

It is possible that a credit card chargeback may not be successful, but, it doesn’t hurt in asking/pursing. If their correspondence clearly states that they will refund on receipt of the item, this might assist your case. You might be able to also argue if they have stated that they won’t pay for return freight, that under the Australian Consumer Law, that they should pay for return of the item - hence why chargeback is being pursued.

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Had an issue myself when I bought a Christmas gift last November from a site with a “.com.au” address and paid in $AU. I was wondering why it was taking so long till I followed up with the tracking and discovered it was coming from a company in the UK and they were experiencing massive holdups due to issues with Royal Mail. Finally received the item in April. The lesson for me was to read all the fine print on the site despite first impressions.

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Sounds like this could possibly be a dropshipping business based in Australia.

Dropshipping is becoming more common, is where an online business doesn’t have any stock and in effect is an onseller which gets others to fulfil the order. This could be a manufacturer, wholesaler or another retailer which holds stock and dispatches it to the customer on behalf of the dropshipping business.

There are risks of such business models from the consumer’s and business’s perceptive. It relies on others which can impact on the reputation of the dropshipping business.

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Oh! :flushed: Being a consumer has become a very difficult job!

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Having worked many years in large corporations there was a common rule “beware the little old lady with a cat”. In reference to never litigate against the small person. D vs G theory, the corp will likely lose brand value, increase cruelty reputation and magistrates usually side with the little ol lady. I encourage you to keep chipping away.

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The moral high ground, fortunately there are those businesses who understand.

Not all brands appear to read from the same handbook. There are numerous examples scattered through the community discussions of certain brands whose reputations preceded them. Yet they remain in business. Perhaps more of their customers who proceed to the ultimate arbiter need to become pet lovers and present a frail disposition?

For Handelnine Global Ltd presenting here as NineLife (au@ninelife.com) the prior posts suggest reputation is not a factor assessed before many choose to purchase. The only reward for the cost to bring them to account before a magistrate, the FF points one might acquire in pursuit. :wink:

Also, never litigate against someone who won’t be able to pay i.e. go after assets but only if there are assets. (If the company gets dragged into court, the company may not have a choice.)

This is doubly so if you a) win the case but b) can’t recover your costs (much less get damages) without sending the “little old lady with a cat” into homelessness and bankruptcy. That can only lead to more brand damage. :wink:

However in this case I don’t know that there is much brand to damage (in Australia).

Another consideration though is “precedent” and/or whether one loss in court could lead to a flood of similar claims. In that case, it may make sense for a company to litigate a claim that on the face of it makes no sense.

It’s also worth commenting that one disgruntled customer can easily cause as much noise as 99 satisfied customers. So anyone who e.g. goes online to assess reputation before purchase needs to take that into account - and get a fair and balanced perspective. The danger signs are multiple dissatisfied customers but even then … you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet.