Who can you trust?

The majority of Kiwi online shoppers think it's fine to trust any New Zealand website that gets thrown up on their Google search for their item. Sadly that just isn't the case any more.

Take as a recent example Globalsoundtrade.co.nz who managed to trade for over 5 years under various names and have just disappeared into thin air with what looks like hundreds of thousands of $$ of customers money, leaving thousands more other customers with goods that have turned out to be parallel imported so have no valid warranty in this country at all.

On the surface their site looked like a legitimate shop, they had lots of flash graphics and pictures and claims that products would be backed up with a proper NZ warranty. They were a registered Ltd company with a physical address in Auckland CBD and freephone 0800 number. They had lots of listings on ebay and thousands of products listed on Pricespy and Priceme. Some of those sites even had positive reviews on the company.

But the truth behind them was slightly different. A check on the NZ Companies Office website showed several name changes after their first company Musicthingz was featured on Fair Go for its dodgy practices. All the flash graphics and pictures turned out to be stolen from other websites under copyright infringement. The physical address they were using turned out to be a block of apartments with no sign of the company operating there. Many of the positive reviews on them turned out to be bogus ones placed by their staff. Customers who had goods break down found that when they approached the manufacturer’s official repair agents in NZ there was no warranty on their goods because they were parallel imported. It look little more than a Google search for “Globalsoundtrade review” to throw up a whole trail of customers who had lost their money.

So the big question is “Who can you trust?”. Even now we are aware of people operating other similar websites in NZ. So here’s a few tips about how you can protect your hard earned cash.
  1. Only trust genuine manufacturer authorized retailers. That is the only way to ensure a proper NZ warranty and even if the company you purchased from does go out of business the manufacturer will still cover the warranty. It’s not safe to trust a site that simply says 1 year NZ warranty because if they are not authorized agents then it’s not a proper manufacturers warranty and you could be left in the lurch (Globalsoundtrade a case in point!)
  2. Do a basic Google background check, simply search for the website name with “review” after it and it soon shows up if they’ve got a shady past. However don’t be surprised if genuine retailers don’t have any reviews at all because it’s the tendency with shoppers to only go to the trouble of leaving reviews if they’ve had a really bad experience.
  3. Contact the authorized NZ rep for the brand you want to purchase and ask if the store you’re looking at is a genuine reseller. You can usually find this information on the manufacturers website.
  4. Don’t trust a website just because they’ve got lots of big name products and look like a big store, it’s easy to create a smoke screen like that these days with cheap web design. Ring them up and ask where there warehouse or store location is and can you drop round and see them. If they are parallel importing or just operating out of their back bedroom chances are this will flush them out!
  5. If a website doesn't take credit cards then that is never a good sign. Banks soon ban websites from using credit cards once they've got a bad track record of chargebacks from customers. Don't forget that if a website only takes bank transfer then you have little or no way of getting your money back should the deal go sour. Once again case in point Globalsoundtrade who was taking bank transfer payment only for the last year and customers ended up taking him to court to try and get their money back.