Emma Gestro, the director of now defunct Get Design and Sales Limited (Get Design), has been fined $80,000 for breaching the Fair Trading Act by taking payment for goods not delivered.
Ms Gestro, also known as Emma McCulloch, pleaded guilty to breaching the Fair Trading Act by demanding or accepting payment for kitset buildings sold by her company Get Design, when she did not have reasonable grounds to believe that delivery could occur within the period agreed, or within a reasonable time.
In addition to the fine, the Court awarded a total of $43,090.76 in reparations to three customers to whom the charges relate that Ms Gestro took money from between July 2016 and July 2017, before the company became insolvent.
In sentencing in the North Shore District Court on 21 August, Judge Fraser said Ms Gestro had spun “a tangled web of fiction” and of the offending he said “I can only but describe it as egregious, outright deception … packed full of mendacity”.
He said “I have no doubt a significant level of psychological harm has been occasioned” to the victims, and that “the impact on them was significant and has continued from the date of the parties realising they had been scammed down to today.”
For the Commission, Chair Anna Rawlings said “Ms Gestro demanded payment from customers when she did not have reasonable grounds to believe that Get Design could supply the kitsets that customers had ordered.”
“Customers have the right to take businesses at their word and to expect delivery of goods that they have paid for. This case reinforces that businesses and their directors must behave responsibly and treat customers fairly. Customers must not be misled into paying in advance, or paying a deposit, if you do not reasonably expect to be able to supply the goods that you have promised,” said Ms Rawlings.
Get Design was incorporated in February 2014 with Emma Gestro as sole director. The business advertised and sold small kitset buildings, including small sheds, outhouses, and back of house offices, on the internet under various entity names including Kiwi-Built, Econobach, My DIY, DIY Kitsets, and Builder’s Kitsets. Get Design sub-contracted the manufacture of the kitset buildings to third parties.
Get Design was placed in liquidation on 14 July 2017.