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The curious case of Expansys South Africa

Importer of rare gadgets, goodies and widgets, Expansys South Africa shut its doors last week. The full story can be read on Mybroadband but the summary reads fairly simply: lots of complaints about the company, radio silence around December then suddenly a complete and utter shutdown. I find this weird for a couple of reasons:

  • People love gadgets and will pay to buy products they can’t get locally. As one of these people cost becomes less of an issue as you lust after the latest US only gadget.
  • Running an online store that is contracting in size is actually relatively easier than running a larger store. You can essentially get away with running a store with one person handling orders and postage. I’ve seen this done before; it is possible.

The story has a slight twist though with the issue that French cellular network Orange is opening in South Africa. The weird part of the story is that there is no new network being launched: you can’t go buy an Orange sim card and put it into your phone.

Then the plot thickens some more:

What Orange has done is launched an online store: http://store.orange.com/za/p_orange_home.aspx. In this online store they sell rare gadgets, goodies and widgets. Sensing a pattern here? But wait, there’s more!

Expansys in the UK and Orange have partnered up according to Techcentral. 1+1 = dodgy business somewhere?

The CEO of Expansys UK claims this is a major coincidence and that the Premium Group (owners of Expansys SA) went out of business and were liquidated. Could this be a case of the franchisor squeezing out the franchisee?

Something smells exceptionally fishy here.

3 thoughts on “The curious case of Expansys South Africa

  1. Dear Saul,
    I would like to respond to your blog entry, as I feel it misrepresents the facts of the matter, and suggests some form of ‘dodgy business’ practice, which is certainly not the case.
    EXPANSYS.com is a global online retail brand, operating more than 50 international sites directly, as well as operating a large number of International sites on behalf of technology brands such as HTC, Motorola etc. EXPANSYS.com is part of the EXPANSYS PLC group, a listed company on the AIM exchange in the UK.
    Until recently, we had one (1) Franchise partner, based in South Africa, and operating the EXPANSYS brand under license in that market. We became aware that our franchisee could not resolve some local ownership/partnership issues, and as such, had entered the business into liquidation. At this point, we took the decision to manage the site directly ourselves, and provide continuation of service for our Customers in South Africa. We also directly contacted all customers with outstanding orders or returns/issues etc, and advised them as to the best way to resolve their individual situation. The EXPANSYS South Africa site has been back up and running for a week now.
    In relation to Orange, we are proud to be supporting them in terms of their ecommerce offering in South Africa, launched recently alongside their headline sponsorship of the ACON, and our work with them does not in any way conflict with the operation of the EXPANSYS brand or website in South Africa. In fact, I would argue that it represents more investment and focus for our group in the exciting ecommerce / consumer technology segments in South Africa.
    I hope that clarifies the situation
    Anthony Catterson
    CEO – EXPANSYS PLC

  2. Worst of all is, I PAID for my goods at Expansys just before they went into liquidation. Thats a total of ZAR 3000 LOST. I sent the CEO of Expansys UK an email explaining to him, then received an e-mail back stating that my order is placed on hold until I PAY (AGAIN) the amount of ZAR 3000 (or 211 GBP) before I can get my goods.

    I would just like to say thank you for taking the time Mr Catterson, but I’m taking this complaint viral. I will complain about this at every site I can find so that people are aware of the extreme poor service we received.

  3. I myself am a victim of the poor service from Expansys, just like Anonymous. Unlike Anonymous though, I did not receive a reply from Mr Catterson. Till today I have not received my goods or a refund. When I call Expansys UK, they just keep passing the buck.

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