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Fair Trading authorities nationwide have warned the public against entering into transactions with online retailer Toy Palace Australia.



The official public warnings were issued last week following an investigation by Consumer Affairs Victoria into Toy Palace Australia.

It was in response to around 100 complaints received from irate customers who placed orders and paid for them, but have yet to receive their goods. Other customer ccomplaints related to being charged a 20 per cent 'restocking' fee when requesting a refund of monies paid; or goods arriving that were not as advertised, or in a timely manner.

According to John Rolfe, reporting for The Adelaide Advertiser, Christopher Miles is the man behind toypalaceaustralia.com.au, a slick-looking site that claimed to have 30,000 toys for sale including Lego, Star Wars and Frozen-branded merchandise. The business, in fact, is run out of a Kennards storage unit in Melbourne.

In a statement released by NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe, the agency said it received an increasing number of complaints about the online retailer. Stowe said there were concerns that the conduct of the trader had resulted in “actual detriment and would cause possible future detriment to NSW consumers”, and that the public warning has been issued in the public interest under Section 223 of the Australian Consumer Law (NSW).

Pursuant to this, Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading agencies have successfully managed to have the fraudulent website and all links to it removed online.

Stowe reiterated that consumers buying goods and services online should exercise caution, and that any NSW consumers who have experienced problems with Toy Palace Australia should lodge a complaint at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.

“If you've not received goods and you paid with a credit card, you should contact your financial institution to seek a chargeback,” Stowe said.

Toy & Hobby Retailer was unable to conatct Miles for comment. However, further enquiries made by us revealed Miles is largely unknown to the industry. The Australian Toy Association has confirmed that in its best estimation Miles is not registered as having attended the annual toy fair.

Patrick Coghlan, CreditorWatch commercial director, told Toy & Hobby Retailer that there is currently no adverse data present on the credit file.

"That is, there are no court judgements or payment defaults that would have been lodged by creditors who are owed money," Coghlan said, adding: "No commercial creditors are monitoring this particular entity for changes, which indicates the business likely doesn’t have any suppliers and may in fact have no stock at all."

"The business name of Toy Palace was only added in November last year along with two other recently added business names. Typically, businesses that are less than 12 months old represent a much more serious credit risk than established companies that have been trading for longer," he said.
 
"CreditorWatch generally suggests trading cautiously with younger businesses until they have proven to be reliable payers. This could mean putting them on strict payment terms or even COD terms. We also suggest doing business with 'Proprietary Limited' companies rather than 'Sole Traders'.
 
"As a whole, we are seeing more and more ecommerce 'scams'. As consumers and businesses alike become more comfortable transacting online, scammers take advantage of this. Particularly if you're a business, running credit checks online will help establish if the company you're about to do business with actually exists, and whether they have any negative information registered against them."
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