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Company collapse unfair

Thursday, 7th January, 2016

By Erica Visser

A selfless donation has been rendered worthless by the demise of Dick Smith Electronics.

Local woman Brittany Hillier is one of many customers nationwide who were left feeling duped after the company called in administrators on Tuesday.

Brittany had bought a $50 Dick Smith voucher and donated it to a local charity’s Christmas appeal last month.

But the card was no longer worth the plastic it was printed on, with the company and others who sell the vouchers, including Coles, refusing to give refunds. 

“Every year at Christmas I make a donation,” Brittany said yesterday.

“Usually I buy a voucher for Woolies or Coles so they can buy groceries but this year I thought maybe an older lady might like a house phone or somebody else might like to buy a mobile phone for job interviews.

“Now to hear this announcement out of the blue...it isn’t fair on people.”

Brittany felt there was “no point” in pushing the matter but decided the needy should not have to miss out due to the mishap.

She planned to donate the equivalent in cash to the charity to make up for the worthless card.

“Now they’ve got sales signs up in the window trying to get people to shop in there, it’s ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, Independent senator Nick Xenophon yesterday called on the corporate watchdog to urgently investigate what caused the company to go into voluntary receivership.

He’s also requested a parliamentary inquiry to get to the bottom of what happened, and whether the Australian Securities and Investments Commission was “asleep on the front porch” while the company unravelled.

Senator Xenophon has also demanded private equity firm Anchorage Capital Partners, which floated the company for $520 million in 2013 shortly after buying it for $94 million, support affected employees and consumers.

He told reporters in Adelaide that he hoped Dick Smith would continue to trade for the sake of the employees.

“It is an iconic Australian company and clearly it has been let down by a whole range of factors,” the senator said.

“But if Dick Smith is going to collapse on itself because the numbers just didn’t stack up and there appears to have been some creative accounting that is well within the rules, then maybe the rules need to be changed.”

He said it was also time to “put the blowtorch” to private equity companies like Anchorage to closely examine their tactics. -BDT/AAP

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