Mums’ fury as party supplies probe launched
EXCLUSIVE:: One of Australia's largest party supplies businesses is under official investigation following claims it has failed to deliver what were meant to be special touches on first-birthday celebrations, baby showers and weddings.
While Pink Frosting argues it's being unfairly accused, many of its gutted customers also say it has been slow to refund - or doesn't at all.
Some have gone public with their experiences to warn others, posting scathing criticisms on leading consumer feedback site productreview.com.au.
"Pink Frosting are the worst-rated online-only shop that we have," said ProductReview managing director Elmar Shar. About 500 such stores are tracked on the site.
Pink Frosting has a rating of 1.7 out of five from 1116 reviews. One, defined as "terrible", is the lowest possible rating.
Owner and CEO Louise Curtis described complaining customers as "hysterical".
She also said it was the victim of an alleged "witch hunt" by ProductReview, which Mr Shar denied.
Ms Curtis said her business had been further hampered by its former landlord, which had not fixed storm damage to the Pink Frosting building. She said she was suing.
Ms Curtis said fewer than 180 of the 879 one-star reviews for Pink Frosting were under her ownership, which began in August 2015.
A check then showed at least twice that many were. Ms Curtis wouldn't comment other than to say the business "disputes the validity of many of those reviews".
Pink Frosting has a rating of 2.2 out of five from 102 Google reviews; one is the lowest rating.
Three reviewers who have recently given it top marks also rate a Halloween costumes store in California five stars; two who give Pink Frosting a maximum score also do so for a Michigan tool business. Ms Curtis wouldn't comment about the validity of those reviews.
Perth mother Rhonwen Ammendolea's experience typifies many of those who have given Pink Frosting one star on ProductReview. She ordered 70 personalised lollipops in August for her son Jordan's first birthday party in October.
"It seemed like quite a good deal," Ms Ammendolea said.
But they never arrived and she only got a refund after putting a review on ProductReview. The refund delay was blamed on a "technical error". She tried to alert Pink Frosting's more than 200,000 Facebook followers but customers are not permitted to give feedback there.
"It's just for their advertising," she said.
She also made a complaint to the ACCC, which is assisting in the investigation into Pink Frosting.
Another one-star reviewer, Jess Finos of Adelaide, told News Corp Australia she ordered tablecloths and balloons for a combined birthday party for her one and three-year-olds. She didn't get the items or receive a refund so she posted on ProductReview. Pink Frosting responded on the site by saying sorry and that it would get the refund was processed.
An ACT Fair Trading spokesman said it "is currently investigating a number of complaints" and that "as part of ongoing inquiries, it has been in contact with other Australian Consumer Law regulators throughout Australia". Ms Curtis wouldn't comment beyond saying Pink Frosting had a "productive and open relationship" with authorities.
Ms Curtis said a daily limit had been put on the value of refunds Pink Frosting issues and that the results were being reported to authorities. ACT Fair Trading said it "categorically rejects any suggestions that it instructed Pink Frosting to put a cap on refunds."
Pink Frosting does have one physical store in Canberra. On ProductReview, ACT customers rate Pink Frosting more highly.