In-store advertiser Viewble Media goes into liquidation, leaving hundreds of small businesses out of pocket

The liquidation of in-store advertiser Viewble has dashed the hopes of over 1,100 small business trapped in display contracts worth an estimated $31m with the now defunct business.

Viewble came to attention late last year when hundreds of small businesses complained they had taken out $430 a month contracts with the company to install advertising supported in-store TVs.

The sales pitch for the service told the business owners the cost of the TVs would be more than offset by the earnings from advertising commissions.

However the advertising revenue never materialised as the sister company, The Shoppers’ Network, fell over leaving small businesses with an estimated $31m total bill for the screens.

The fall out from the impasse saw the Federal government’s small business ombudsman become involved in attempting to resolve the dispute. However with last week’s announcement the company had gone into liquidation appears to have scuppered those efforts.

When contacted by Mumbrella, the ombudsman provided the following statement: “The office of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) has received more than 1100 complaints from small business owners regarding Viewable Media and The Shoppers Network, with numbers increasing daily.

“The Ombudsman, Kate Carnell has written to each of the finance providers used by Viewble Media requesting they cease their billing and debt collection activities while the matter is being investigated.

“No financier responded positively, however, those who are members of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) have ceased collection activities from the businesses that complained directly to AFCA. We are awaiting AFCA’s determinations on the matters referred to them. We are also continuing to work with all four finance providers to achieve a resolution.

“ASBFEO is aware of others businesses with similar business models that are still active in this space and warn small businesses to be extremely cautious of any “no cost” or “cost neutral“ in-store or online advertising packages.

“It is very important that small business owners are fully aware of what they are signing up to. If a sales pitch sounds to good to be true, small business owners should examine the companies, the contracts and what they are being offered very closely – especially if there is a finance contract involved.

“Both parties involved in the supply of the AV setup and the advertising are now in liquidation and we understand the directors have left the country.

“Our office is working closely with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Security and Investment Commission and the AFCA to work towards a resolution as quickly as possible.”


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