Following news of the collapse of Designer Homeware, a number of former customers have spoken of their frustration and anger over what they perceive as “mismanagement” and “madness” at the now-collapsed appliance retailer.

Designer Homeware shut the doors on its two Sydney stores in December last year, with the director confessing that he spent the summer break attempting to dig his business out of financial ruin. However, when no financial life-line could be found, director Athan Papoulias admitted he “gave up the fight” and called in the liquidators on 2 January 2014.

Now, former customers of the stores have lambasted Mr Papoulias, saying these comments reflect “his lack of concern and duty of care to individuals, creditors and staff”.

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One former customer and now creditor, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke to Appliance Retailer about the thousands of dollars he lost due to what he labelled “Mr Papoulias’ poor managerial ability”:

My wife and I were present at the creditors meeting, and met with some of the staff, in particular the gentleman that sold the items to us (he was a mess). We were told staff received an SMS informing them that they had no job (that is spineless).

Owing money to suppliers, he forgets his commitment to the consumer. As a consumer we purchased over $9,000 of appliances (pre-paid) and were to be stored by Designer Homeware whilst we were renovating. At no stage whilst this business was collapsing did we receive a phone call or letter to advise that it would be best to collect the items.

We have endeavoured to do everything possible to reclaim our items, but in short all our items that should have been stored and paid for…are missing. We are now forced to repurchase these items again — how is this fair?

This is utter madness, and individuals like Mr Papoulias should be held accountable for their poor business management and ethics.

This customer was not the only one to be offered the opportunity to store purchased appliances in Designer Homeware’s on-site storage. It is worth noting that this service is something advertised by Designer Homeware — The retailer lists “free storage” on its website under the title “Our Promise to You”:

We realise you’re not always ready to take your appliances straight away. That’s why we’re happy to store them for as long as you need, free of charge.

Another customer who ordered thousands of dollars worth of appliances opted to keep her purchases at the store until her kitchen renovation was ready. Speaking to Appliance Retailer, she even listed this as a key reason for choosing to buy from Designer Homeware.

As my home renovation was taking longer than expected, my goods were being ‘kept’ in the warehouse until I was ready for delivery. This service, of keeping items in storage until needed, was one of the main reasons we chose to shop through Designer Homeware.

Just before Christmas, I was contacted by [a staff member] who advised that due to the building being sold, they had lost warehouse space so my products had to be delivered. My home renovation is not yet complete, but I was able to find some storage space and I had my refrigerator and barbeque delivered just before Christmas. I was told by [the staff member] that the cook top and oven would be kept in the warehouse until I needed it delivered.

In early January, we received information that Designer Homeware had gone into liquidation and I was advised by the liquidators (Joubert Insolvency) to wait until a stock take was taken to determine ownership and location of goods. I was just informed by Joubert Insolvency that the stock take was now completed and that my goods were nowhere to be found. This is very surprising considering I was verbally advised by Designer Homeware staff that the goods were in stock, in store and ready for delivery before Christmas.

According to documents obtained by Appliance Retailer, these customers represent a small portion of the more than 160 creditors that are owed money by Designer Homeware. Of these secured and unsecured creditors, a number of appliance brands are owed more than $300,000 altogether, while a further 117 creditors (including customers and staff) were yet to have their losses tabled when the documents were circulated.

In total, Designer Homeware’s debts exceed $700,000.