Canberra fashion store Nunie and YU refused to pay for more than $20,000 of clothes because owner claimed supplier was ‘operating illegally’


Fashion store Nunie and YU has been ordered to pay $24,570 for custom-made clothing it ordered and never paid for, as the owner claimed the supplier was “operating illegally”.

The shop owner also claimed the supplier delivered the wrong sizes, three months after receiving the order and despite inserting her own labels in the meantime.

But this week, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) found that the right clothing sizes had been delivered, the supplier was not trading illegally, and the payment for the contract was owed.

Fashion partnership crumbles after dispute inside shop

ACAT heard Roxanne Ebina, owner of the Yarralumla-based Nunie and YU in Canberra, began making orders from South Korean supplier Crystal Rivers Collection in early 2017, and by September was making repeat orders over $20,000.

The problems started in April 2018, when Ms Ebina placed a $22,400 order for 248 pieces of clothing, including 100 “Nunie jackets” — a jacket made from the design of another brand which Ms Ebina had asked the supplier to copy.

The tribunal heard the supplier was growing increasingly unhappy with how long it was taking Ms Ebina to pay for one of her previous orders, so when the Nunie jackets and other goods were delivered in September 2018, the supplier also presented Ms Ebina with a document to sign.

The supplier wanted Ms Ebina to sign a personal guarantee, pledging to pay the more than $30,000 she owed.

When Ms Ebina realised what she was being asked to sign, ACAT documents report she became angry “with what she saw as a duplicitous act”.

Nunie and YU has been ordered to pay $24,570 for custom-made clothing it ordered and never paid for.(Supplied)

The business relationship quickly deteriorated.

A week after receiving the order for the Nunie jackets and other goods, ACAT heard Ms Ebina still had not paid, and so the supplier sent a collections agency to try and gain payment for the April order.

Ms Ebina refused the collections agency, arguing she was being asked to repay the debt too soon, and that because 11 items were missing she needed to clarify the amount she owed.

“I have not signed any agreement to pay for the stock in such a short time frame,” she said in an email to an employee of the collections agency in October 2018.

“We have only put 10 per cent out to be sold so far and the rest is in storage … The matter is not that simple.”

However, one of the conditions Ms Ebina agreed to in the contract was that she would pay invoices within a week of the goods being delivered.

DIY investigation leads owner to conclude business is illegal

Meanwhile, Ms Ebina and her staff had begun to “investigate” Crystal Rivers Collection.

The tribunal heard a staff member found a single invoice, unrelated to the April 2018 order, that incorrectly displayed the details of its old trading identity, since deregistered.

After an ASIC search of the company’s ABN returned a different name to its registered trading name, Ms Ebina and her staff concluded the company was trading illegally.

“Following her and her staff’s investigations, Ms Ebina took the view that ‘the applicant was operating illegally, providing fraudulent documents with false entity and false ABNs on all documentation provided to’ her,” Tribunal member Dominic Mulligan said.

In a December 2018 email accusing Crystal Rivers Collection of being fraudulent, Ms Ebina raised for the first time apparent issues with the sizing of the clothes she had ordered:

“Upon inspection of the order and the invoice we realised that 81 of 248 ordered items were either missing or sent in the incorrect size… I request that you arrange a courier to pick up the goods delivered to us.”

However, emails show Ms Ebina had personally inspected the items three months earlier, and had not raised sizing issues to Crystal Rivers Collection.

Mr Mulligan also noted: “By the time of this allegation the respondent had inserted her own labels, with pricing and style information, into each of the items received.”

Ms Ebina was ordered to pay the $22,048 still owing under the contract, as well as $1,340 in interest, and $1,100 reimbursement for the tribunal filing fee paid by Crystal Rivers Collection.



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