A group of disgruntled customers want answers from two businessmen about the collapse of a shed company that left them up to $50,000 in their pockets.
Joshua Purtell was a former manager of Southern Cross Garages in Nowra on the NSW south coast, which is now in liquidation.
Purtell joined the company, which was founded by Paul Naylor a year ago, and now has more than 20 clients without the sheds they pay for.
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Purtell described it as “absolutely a bit unlucky” that he was involved in the meltdown, after another scavenger company he ran also went into liquidation more than a decade ago.
“They say lightning can’t strike twice, but I’m here to say it can and it has,” Purtell said A topical matter from his new business called Platinum Sheds in nearby Vincentia.
Client Jake Luppi took out a loan to pay $39,000 for the shed of his dreams and received nothing.
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“Put everything we had in this house, it’s our dream house, our dream shed, so we’re devastated, it’s awful,” said Luppi of his home near Cairns.
Kye and Connie Rollason know the feeling.
They paid $49,000 for their shed, but when it arrived, it wasn’t what they ordered.
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They claim the roof panels are too short, the brackets wrong and the slope too shallow to support a hefty off-grid solar power system.
They need this first to get electricity before building a new house on a rural block west of Newcastle.
“No one will touch it. So basically we have to buy a new shed and we already have $49,000 down the drain, which is a really hard pill to swallow,” said Ms. Rollason.
Purtell said he left the business in September and owed money himself.
But when disgruntled customers began to dig deeper into the directors’ backgrounds, they found Purtell’s Facebook page full of images of a five-star lifestyle, including fancy cars, fancy hotels and business-class flights.
“Just makes us sick, really,” Ms. Rollason said.
“It’s a very different lifestyle than what his clients would lead.”
They also noted that this was not the first shed company collapse Purtell had been involved with.
Eleven years ago, the Queensland Office of Fair Trading took action against him when he was director of the Shed Warehouse on the Gold Coast.
It turned out that Purtell had taken payment for 43 sheds that he could not deliver.
He had to personally pay back $174,000 in compensation.
Purtell claims he repaid part of it, but the National Personal Insolvency Index shows he filed for bankruptcy a year before the court case was completed.
He blames a former business partner for the collapse.
Customers say it was extremely difficult to get responses from Southern Cross Garages when problems arose, with a game of blame quickly erupting between the two directors.
Ms Rollason said she was not taking responsibility nor offering a solution.
Purtell tells A topical matter that Naylor is to blame.
Naylor declined to address the allegation, saying via text message: “No comment, directorship has been suspended, please contact the liquidators.”
When asked why two shed companies he was involved with collapsed, Purtell said, “But it’s not my fault.”
“I get involved with the wrong people and try to help.”
He claims he is now trying to fix some of the missing sheds, not as a legal requirement but simply out of his own good will.
“Of the stung customers, Metroll Australia and I are delivering up to 21, so they will all be delivered before December 12,” Purtell said.
Metroll Australia declined our requests to confirm what arrangements were in place.
Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading said it was assisting three customers, while the NSW agency failed to provide information about a possible investigation, leaving disappointed customers at a loss.
Mr Rollason said the situation was “absolutely shameful”.
“I just can’t believe someone like that can do it to people and get away with it and they’re still living this beautiful luxury lifestyle,” he said.
Statement from a spokeswoman for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT):
The OFT is currently assisting three consumers with their complaints about Southern Cross Garages, Platinum Sheds and The Shed Specialist. If a violation of the law is proven, the OFT will follow up the matter according to the approved guidelines.
If consumers have purchased goods or services from a business and have not received them, they are strongly encouraged to file a complaint online at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
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