A NATIONAL removals company has been placed into liquidation, as Tasmanian customers remain in limbo about when their personal belongings may finally be delivered.
Last month, a winding up application was lodged against Wridgways Australia, which is now in liquidation following an order from the Queensland Supreme Court.
The Mercury last week reported the story of Wendy Rice, who hired the company to move her furniture and other personal effects from Sydney to Hobart.
Six weeks later, her possessions had still not been delivered and she was having difficulty contacting representatives of the business.
Miss Rice is one of many customers left waiting for their goods, with some taking to social media to vent their frustration at the continued delays.
Blair Pleash, of Hall Chadwick Chartered Accountants, has been appointed as liquidator of the company, which has changed its name from Wridgways to SFG Relocations.
He the company was part of a group of entities which provided logistics, removal and warehousing services to customers within Australia and overseas.
Liquidators are reviewing the affairs of the company including its asset and liability position.
‘A nightmare’: Couple wait weeks for belongings after Tassie move
A recent story published by the Mercury brought up bad memories for a Bicheno couple who knew all too well the frustration that dealing with furniture removalists can bring.
On Monday the Mercury told the story of Wendy Rice who moved to Tasmania in May and was stuck in her new and empty house with no furniture or personal belongings for six weeks due to the failings of removalist company WridgWays.
Patrick and Katherine Deprez read about Miss Rice’s horror experience and contacted the Mercury to share that they too had a horror ordeal with the removalists.
“My wife and I can relate to everything Miss Rice is experiencing,” Mr Deprez said.
“My wife is originally from Tassie and we decided to move back there and so in February we hired WridgWays to transport our furniture and belongings from northern New South Wales to Tasmania and we had an awful experience,” he said.
Mr Deprez said the removalist company collected their belongings on February 27 and were instructed to deliver them to their new Bicheno home on May 3, allowing WridgWays 65 days to complete the task – the cost to the Deprez’ to transport their valuables was $7800.
“I got in touch with them four days before the agreed delivery date to remind them and check that everything was okay for delivery on May 3rd,” Mr Deprez said.
“I got a response back by email saying yes it was all on track and that operations would be in touch the next day to confirm a delivery time for Monday.
“However, I never received any contact the next day as promised and that started to alarm me a little but I thought maybe they are just busy and so I had my fingers crossed.”
On May 3 the couple waited patiently in their new home with their fingers crossed that their belongings would arrive.
“By midday there was no sign of them so I contacted them by phone and email to check what was happening and I couldn’t get a response from anyone.
“That was the frustrating thing, no one would answer their phone and you’d get no response by email,” Mr Deprez said.
“We had no fridge, no bed, none of our personal belongings, no blankets, no cooking utensils… just an empty house.”
By the evening of May 3 there was no sign of their shipment and so Mr and Mrs Deprez went to sleep in their cold and empty home on a deflated air mattresses that their son drove up from Hobart.
Mr Deprez said he tried making contact with the removal company for the next three days but was unable to get through to anyone who could tell him where his belongings were or when they would arrive.
Then after three days of silence from the company, he said a representative finally called and advised him that there had been a delay and his belongings weren’t far away.
“He went on about how so many people are moving to Tassie and it’s caused this big backlog and said it wasn’t too far away but gave no specific details,” Mr Deprez said.
Fast forward four days and the Deprezes heard nothing more from WridgWays and the new Tasmanian residents were still living in an empty house and sleeping on air mattresses.
“Around 10 days in we decided we needed a proper bed so we drove an hour or so up to St Helens to get a new bed and had to get it delivered back to Bicheno.
“There were all these extra expenses such as eating out nearly every meal as we couldn’t keep food as we had no fridge.”
“All of your belongings, furniture, photos, and personal belongings are all in this company’s hands and you don’t know where they are or whether you’ll ever get it back…we felt powerless.”
Mr Deprez said that after three weeks of continually phone calls and emails to get any information on his belongings, he finally received a phone call on Monday May 24 to advise him that the goods were in Launceston and were two days away from being delivered.
On May 26 — 23 days after they were expected — Mr and Mrs Deprez’s belongings arrived.
“It was a feeling of relief when they finally arrived. Of course the delivery guys had no idea we’d been waiting 23 days past the agreed date so there was no apology or anything but it was just good to finally have all of our stuff back,” Mr Deprez said.
Mr Deprez said he later discovered that WridgWays were struggling as a business and had gone into receivership in late 2020.
“If they had just come back and said we are in this situation of a takeover and we understand it’s a difficult situation for you and for us and we are trying to fulfil our obligation then we would have understood … but we never heard anything until two days before it arrived which was 23 days late.”
Mr Deprez said living in an empty house for 23 days and sleeping on blow up mattresses for the first ten days were tough on him and his wife’s mental state and even their relationship.
“We both got the flu, we were so run down physically and so mentally stressed that it put a lot of pressure on us and our relationship.
“The whole thing was extremely distressing, we had high levels of anxiety and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else… it was a nightmare,” he said.
‘Horrendous’: Dream Tassie move shattered
WENDY Rice couldn’t wait to move to Tasmania, but has been stuck in an empty Hobart house for more than six weeks and was forced to temporarily sleep on the floor, as a removals company failed to deliver her possessions.
The 59-year-old and her housemate paid WridgWays $7500 to move their furniture and personal effects from Sydney in May.
Miss Rice said removalists picked up their belongings in Sydney on May 10 and were told to expect them at their rental property in Battery Point about a week later.
They drove to Melbourne and caught the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, bringing only a couple of changes of clothes and minimal other possessions with them.
But their furniture and possessions never turned up, turning the move into a nightmare.
“I have family here including my elderly mum, and so we planned for a long time to do this and just thought this was a good time, but now this has happened,” Miss Rice said.
“We’ve had to buy clothes, and of course we had nothing to cook with, so we had to spend a lot of money on eating out.”
A month and a half of frustration has ensued, with a flurry of emails and phone calls from Miss Rice unable to solve the impasse.
At one stage, she slept on the floor with only a few cushions for comfort, and has since had to purchase a bed and other supplies.
It comes as freight provider Pacific National lodges a winding up application against WridgWays, which says it is in the final stages of a potential sale of the business.
Ms Rice said when she got through to a WridgWays representative, she was told the possessions were being stored in Canberra, with no timeline on when they might be delivered.
“It’s horrendous,” she told the Mercury.
Miss Rice said there were no obvious warning signs about the company, and added the workers who came to do the packing “were all upbeat”.
WridgWays Australia chief executive Kobus Fourie apologised to customers affected by delays.
“WridgWays takes the utmost care to deliver customers’ belongings on time and in good condition. Unfortunately, on this occasion, that did not occur, and for that we apologise,” he said.
“WridgWays is undergoing a comprehensive re-engineering of the business involving multiple external parties, and as such a few customers have experienced some delays in fulfilling their delivery due to changes in suppliers and processing.
“We apologise for any inconvenience that our customers may be experiencing and will continue to do our utmost to resolve any issues as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Mr Fourie said the company had been significantly affected as a result of its exposure to international partners, and were in advanced discussions about an acquisition.
Miss Rice has lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and NSW Fair Trading.
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