A New Zealand couple say they spent nearly $14,000 with Utah-based e-commerce website developer StoresOnline a year ago, and remain unhappy with what they got for their money.
StoresOnline was offering seminars in e-commerce website development in Auckland last week. References during the sessions to a number of New Zealand-built websites have prompted a "passing off" complaint to the Commerce Commission and a warning from the Consumers Institute about "get-rich-quick" promises.
Hugh Webb and his wife had already built a website themselves when they attended a StoresOnline seminar in Auckland last year. Operating then under the name Galaxy Mall, they say the company signed them up for its "success team" package, which offered coaching as well as a "guaranteed 8000 visitors" to their site.
Instead, Webb complains of a litany of inconsistencies and a frustrating inability to find anyone to return his calls.
"There was supposed to be a chat room where we could all contact consultants to help with our sites, but after February it mysteriously died and despite me making about 40 phone calls it took them three months to assign someone to fix it," says Webb.
"The additional coaching consisted of a discussion or two with a chap who said 'call me in three months to let me know how you're getting on'. I called, but I can't get hold of him or anyone else."
Webb says after having built most of the site himself to avoid $US50 an hour programming charges, he discovered his contract stipulates the company would build the website for him.
"Then there are the conflicting instructions that are littered through their material. In one place it says 'go out and find a statistical package' to help track usage, but once you've done that you find they've actually got a statistical package included in their stuff, but they haven't updated the site to reflect that."
Webb also found that despite StoresOnline promising to help set up the online payment side of the business, all its connections were in the US and they weren't interested in dealing with a New Zealand business.
"Finally I've had my bank here in New Zealand on the job and they're unsure whether their package will work in with the one provided by these guys."
Webb says the support material included with the "success team" package is almost incomprehensible in places and he found it difficult to understand quite what to do next in his development work despite being "no new-comer when it comes to computers".
Webb says all up he's spent nearly $14,000 on the StoresOnline package.
"I don't know if it's fraudulent so much as simple incompetence. Parts of the package work really well but other parts are just hopeless."
Webb went to one of last week's seminars to complain, and was told that his concerns would be taken "to the top". He has so far heard nothing.
As reported in IDGNet last week (US e-commerce developer in hot water over NZ site), StoresOnline held a series of seminars in Auckland promoting its e-commerce website solutions. However, it has raised the ire of one Dunedin-based developer, e-Media, for allegedly claiming a site developed by e-Media was built using StoresOnline's software when in fact e-Media has never had any dealings with StoresOnline.
Attempts by IDGNet to contact StoresOnline have been unsuccessful.