THE Office of Fair Trading has issued a stern warning to manufacturers
"not to play fast and loose with consumers’ money".
This follows court proceedings in which Gidget Retro Teardrop Camper
manufacturer Glenn Stuart Wills was ordered to pay more than $1 million in
fines, compensation and court costs.
Fair Trading executive director Brian Bauer said the collapse of
Brisbane-based company and the penalties handed
down by the courts were a stark reminder to businesses.
"Taking large sums from consumers based on empty promises is not only
unethical, it is illegal," he said.
"Businesses that cause detriment to consumers this way will be punished."
Mr Wills was found guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court of seven
counts of receiving payment for campervans but failing to supply them
within a reasonable time, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
His company, which built made-to-order campers reminiscent of the teardrop
style popular in the 1960s, collapsed earlier this year and Mr Wills was
Mr Wills was fined $6000 plus costs of $5000, and ordered to pay $20,000
compensation to one customer.
No conviction was recorded.
Gidget was found guilty in March this year of 11 similar offences and
fined $100,000 plus substantial compensation for consumers.
delays in receiving campervans
The Office of Fair Trading launched an investigation after receiving
complaints from 11 consumers who had paid deposits to Gidget between June
2015 and March 2017 but experienced significant delays in receiving their
After its intervention, seven of the consumers received full refunds and
three received their campervans.
But one complainant did not receive any refund of the $27,640 they had
paid to Gidget, or their campervan, because the company was in liquidation
at the time.
Gidget was placed into liquidation in February, leaving a further 56
consumers out of pocket and without their ordered campervan.
Fourteen of those consumers were based in the United States of America.
The Office of Fair Trading sought compensation for the 11 complainants
on which the investigation was based, and
also on behalf of the 56 consumers who also had suffered financial loss
due to Gidget's actions.
The court ordered Gidget to pay compensation of $896,865.60 to Australian
consumers and a further $US196,895.39 to American consumers.
A conviction was recorded against the company.
In sentencing Gidget, Magistrate Payne noted the company had ignored
consumers' complaints until the Office of Fair Trading became involved.
He said the outcome of the matter needed to serve as a warning to other
businesses to follow through and deliver goods and services as promised.
In sentencing Mr Wills, Magistrate Nunan said Mr Wills did not show a good
sense of judgment and had given unrealistic hopes to his customers.
Magistrate Nunan also said, when deciding a penalty,
that he had considered Mr Wills' poor health, lack of criminal
history and that he had no permanent residence after losing his house when
he was declared bankrupt.
The Office of Fair Trading has encouraged consumers who have bought goods
or services from a business but have not
received them to lodge a complaint at