An epileptic beneficiary who was injured during the ill-fated $100,000 “cash drop”believes organisers should apologise for duping attendees and compensate people who received fake cash.
John Murphy, 27, says he spent $200 travelling to Auckland from his Levin home to attend the promotional stunt in December organised by The Safety Warehouse.
Though marketing material described the event as a “$100k live Cash Giveaway” in which real money would fall from the sky, a Commerce Commission investigation found just $3600 in actual cash was given out.
The event turned violent when the 1600 attendees realised most of the notes were fake money, which could only be used as discount vouchers for the company’s online safety products.
Murphy, 27, said many of those who turned up in December were struggling beneficiaries hoping for a Christmas cash bonus.
“We were essentially left out of pocket saying, ‘What the heck, we’ve been ripped off’.”
Murphy, who suffers from epilepsy and took precautions before the event to reduce his risk of an epileptic fit, said he grabbed about $180 in $5 bills before realising they werefake.
The crowd then became violent in what he described as a “riot”.
“I got pushed and shoved and nearly had my glasses broken. I ended up with bruises and grazes.”
After the event, Murphy started a petition calling on The Safety Warehouse to compensate anyone who received what he describes as “useless” fake notes with real money.
He was disappointed that the police and Commerce Commission had decided not to prosecute the company, and called on event organisers to front up and provide compensation.
“Where’s our justice? Where’s our refund? You need to do the right thing.”
The Commerce Commission opted to issue a formal warning to Greenback Ecommerce Ltd, trading as The Safety Warehouse, for engaging in conduct that was likely to have breached the Fair Trading Act.
Greenback Ecommerce owner Andrew Thorn told investigators the event’s marketing was designed to “entice people”.
But there had been no intention to drop $100,000 in real money and he believed there was “little reason” for anyone to believe that much legal tender would be given away.
“This is another kick in the guts,” Murphy told the Herald.
“The police and Commerce Commission won’t take any action. [The company] has not offered any form of compensation to say, ‘Hey we got it wrong’.”
Thorn’s company was fined $30,000 in December by Internal Affairs for sending thousands of unsolicited text messages.
Murphy said he thought the company had clearly not learned its lesson.
“This time you’ve ripped off vulnerable members of the public who really believed they had a chance of winning their share of free cash.”
Murphy said Thorn had not taken responsibility or offered any apology to those people who were misled.
“Hopefully they will do the right thing, say sorry and pay up.”
Murphy wrote to Thorn’s company in December asking to discuss the event, saying he was “open to talking with you about rectifying the problem”.
The company wrote back warning that “your previous actions & lies will be released to the media”.
“We recommend you withdraw your petition immediately.”
Murphy said he felt the email was a threat. He had no idea what “lies and action” the company was referring to and had not removed the petition.
Thorn said his company had not threatened Murphy, whom he referred to as an “unreliable source”.
“The recommendation of removal for the petition was to assist Mr Murphy with his exposure to legal proceedings.”
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