Serious questions have been raised about the source of products being offered on a brand new amaysim telco site that is being pitched as “discount heaven” for people looking for cheap smartphones.
An investigation by ChannelNews reveals that the bulk of the branded smartphone devices set to be offered by amaysim on their shop.amaysim.com.au website is being grey imported from questionable suppliers in Asia.
Executives at several leading phone brands have said that consumers are taking a “massive risk” buying products that have not been certified for use in Australia by both carriers and the Australian Mobile Telecommunication Association.
We have also discovered that amaysim are also the owners of the BuyMobile.com.au a web site which according to several leading phone brands are selling grey imported smartphones which could also be a risk to consumers.
One of the brands being listed on the new amaysim and the Buy Mobile web site is Motorola.
Also being sold are Apple, Samsung, Alcatel, HTC, Huawei and LG smartphones.
According to Danny Adamopoulos the General Manager of Sales for Motorola in both Australia and Asia said that his Company “had not” supplied the devices to amaysim.
“They do not have an account with us nor have we supplied devise to these Companies, these are not Australian certified Motorola devices”.
“If these products have come from Hong Kong they are going to be wrong for the Australian consumer, they could even be Chinese models. We need to investigate this further”.
Sam Skontos the Managing Director of Alcatel in Australia said that his Company had not supplied amaysim with their Blackberry range of smartphones which are also ranged on amaysim web sites.
He said “We recently purchased one of our Blackberry products listed on the Buy Mobile website which when you inspect the small print is owned by Amaysim. We discovered that this device came from Hong Kong and was not made for the Australian market”.
He added “Consumers are taking a major risk buying products that are not certified. A smartphone bought through proper channels or a device that has been supplied by an Australian distributor or vendor has to undergo rigorous certification processes”.
Back in July 2016, the NSW Commissioner for Fair Trading pursued legal action against Huadi Bi – the director of Hau Yang Australia International Trading and Investment Pty Ltd – for selling a faulty $4.95 USB charger, resulting in the death of Sheryl Anne Aldegeur.
Bi’s company is facing penalties up to $605,000, following the prosecution of first offences under Section 15 of the Electricity Consumer Safety Act.
Ms Aldegeur, aged 28 years old, obtained the faulty item from Bi’s Campsie-based store. In April 2014, Aldegeur was found dead wearing headphones in her East Gosford home – presumably electrocuted, as the faulty charger sent a high current through her body.
The AMTA (Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association) has affirmed that ‘grey import’ smartphones pose potential risks for Australian consumers and network carriers.
Compliant mobile phones receive certification from Australia’s regulating body, the ACMA (Australian Communications & Media Authority).
This certification confirms that devices meet the safety standards for national network integration, and also include the functionality to make ‘triple zero emergency phone calls’ without requiring a SIM card.
AMTA Chief Financial Officer, Glenn Brown, describes the two major risks posed by ‘rogue phones’:
“In terms of compliance, one of the issues that we see, is being able to meet the requirement of Australia’s triple zero service. In Australia, a compliant phone has to have the ability to make a triple zero emergency call with, or without a sim card”
“If the phones are not compliant, does the consumer have confidence that the feature set of the phone will allow the same functionality, that Australian consumers take for granted, with compliant handsets?”
Mr Brown states whilst some grey import phones are not compliant in Australia, it doesn’t necessarily mean devices won’t feature triple zero functionality, however, “there’s no way to know before [consumers] purchase, so that’s a concern”.
Mr Brown also states that non-compliant phones haven’t been tested, to ensure they meet the safety standards for Australian network integration:
“The other concern, is of course, from a carrier’s point of view – some non-compliant phones could well cause disruption to networks, and certainly not work in conjunction with how the networks have been set up. These ‘rogue phones’, therefore, could cause signal cancelling and other interference to the normal user”
“Non-compliant phones haven’t been tested to ensure they meet the safety standards for network integration”.
According to sources amaysim is also looking at selling other consumer electronic goods online in the future and is working on becoming an online tech store focusing on connected devices at highly competitive prices.
The only problem is the Company is not saying what percentage of the products are sourced from overseas and have not been certified for the Australian market.
Julian Rosenberg a spokesperson for amaysim admitted that goods being sold on their new site and their Buy Mobile site were sourced from overseas.
He claimed that the Company “unpacked the overseas goods and checked them before they were sold onto consumers.
He was not able to elaborate what cost this added to the cost of the goods being sold via the Companies web sites, or whether the Company tested for compliance with Australian networks or power supply.
The Company is claiming that consumers can save as much as $200 on devices they are also offering a two-year warranty on devices.
They are also planning to offer financing that will not be linked to customers’ phone plans which the Company claims will remain free to change providers at any time without being forced to pay-out the leftover balance all in one go.
There is no mention on the shop.amaysim.com.au site or the Buy.Mobile site that the overseas sourced smartphones are not compliant for Australia.
Roma Christian contributed to this story.