Tank customers left high and dry
IPSWICH people are among more than 100 customers across the country to have been duped by a water tank company under investigation by the Fair Trading watchdog.
Based in Sydney, Aqua Conscious Pty Ltd took out a full-page advertisement in The Queensland Times – along with several other regional newspapers – last October, offering tanks in a range of sizes, free delivery within 50km of Brisbane and bonus home entertainment equipment.
Ebenezer resident Tom Bales was one of scores of water-wise Australians to respond to the offer, ordering a 24,000-litre tank for $2199.
He paid a $499 deposit for his tank on November 2 last year and was told it would be delivered in a matter of weeks.
“Several weeks passed and nothing happened, so I rang a bloke called Gary, who told me there had been an accident at the plant; one of their trucks had reversed into some machinery and they’d been held up,” Mr Bales said.
“The next time I rang, they blamed the rain down in NSW.”
Mr Bales’ story is not dissimilar to that of another Ipswich resident, Paula Morris, who is still waiting for her 3000-litre tank.
Mrs Morris has been unable to make meaningful contact with the companies since placing her order last November.
The Aqua Conscious website has been shut down, with a message advising people to deal with the company at their own risk.
An influx of complaints from residents across most states has prompted an investigation from Fair Trading NSW which, along with the Queensland Office of Fair Trading, is now warning people not to deal with Aqua Conscious, Columbus Sales or an individual by the name of Christopher Bruce Smith.
Christopher Bruce Smith was sentenced in December 2000 in the Southport District Court to two years jail, suspended after six months, after pleading guilty to defrauding a pensioner of $119,433.
Queensland Fair Trading’s Brian Bauer said the Queensland and NSW Office of Fair Trading received more than 130 complaints from consumers who bought water tanks or paid deposits without receiving the product.
“The companies and Mr Smith have not been able to demonstrate to NSW Fair Trading that they have the capacity to fulfil orders, so consumers need to be aware so no one else runs the risk of losing money,” Mr Bauer said.
Those who have paid by credit card should contact their financial institution to see if they are eligible for a charge back.
Anyone affected has been urged to notify NSW Fair Trading by calling 13 32 20 or visiting www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.