A wedding and event planning company has been fined $50,000 by the Joondalup Magistrates Court and five couples who were left out of pocket when it became insolvent have been awarded a total of $75,775 in compensation.
Acceler8 Group Pty Ltd (in liquidation), which traded as Bali D’Luxe, was convicted of five offences under the Australian Consumer Law of wrongly accepting payment and failing to supply services within a reasonable time, with a penalty of $10,000 for each charge.
Between June 2013 and October 2014, the Perth-based company had accepted pre-payments for weddings in Bali before going into voluntary liquidation, leaving the consumers as ‘unsecured creditors’.
Some of the consumers had travelled to Bali only to find that most of the services requested for their wedding had not been paid for by Bali D’Luxe, resulting in additional payments having to be made for alternative arrangements in order for their weddings to go ahead.
The Director, who pleaded guilty, was fined an additional $10,000 and ordered to pay costs of $1,772 and compensation to five affected consumers:
- Geraldton consumer to receive $20,471.75
- Victoria Park consumer to receive $17,172.00
- Doubleview consumer to receive $21,335.40
- San Francisco (USA) consumer to receive $9,712.55
- MacGregor (ACT) consumer to receive $7,085.00
The Director was disqualified from managing a corporation for five years and granted a spent conviction.
In handing down his decision on 13 July 2016, Magistrate Smith said the victims were “devastated for a period of time” and “had their hopes dashed”.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said, apart from their financial losses, the consumers in this case endured a high degree of stress and disappointment.
“The couples thought they were going to have their dream wedding in a popular destination, but it turned out to be a nightmare,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Many of the services that had been booked by Bali D’Luxe such as accommodation, venue hire, catering, photography and makeup had been cancelled as confirmation deposits had not been paid.
“Unfortunately, some couples didn’t find this out until they arrived in Bali and were then forced to pay more money to make other arrangements at short notice.
“Paying large sums of money upfront for services that may not be delivered for many months is risky and consumers should try to reduce that risk by paying the minimum amount required to secure the bookings. Paying the full amount for services only after they have been delivered is the best situation that consumers should attempt to achieve by negotiating with traders.”
Consumers with concerns about the timely delivery of goods and services, can contact Consumer Protection by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1300 30 40 54.