Ozone Electronics believed to have taken payment for up to thousands of orders before closing their website and selling off their premises.
The BBC's consumer rights team Watchdog has detailed a scam exploiting up to 2,500 people among the many thousands who were part of the pre-Christmas scramble for scarce Wii supply in the UK.
Ozone Electronics, an Oldham-based company, appealed to desperate prospective Wii buyers by guaranteeing delivery of consoles by the middle of December, while taking payment upfront. As dissatisfied shoppers watched the month pass by without receiving their orders, those contacting the company by phone were greeted by a recorded message, and visitors to the company website found it disused except for a notice to the effect that orders would not be fulfilled.
The Watchdog report notes payments by customers of £400 for an order of two consoles, and £258 for a single Wii. It is not clear whether these orders originally included additional software or accessories, or that Ozone Electronics was further exploiting its customers by charging in excess of the Wii's £179.99 retail price – a clear possibility given the widespread reporting of exorbitant prices associated with Wii auctions on eBay.
With the company's premises up for auction by the end of this month, neither Watchdog nor the local Trading Standards Institute has been able to track down the company's owners, and so customers seeking a refund have been left with their card providers as their only recourse. While credit card providers are legally required to reimburse their clients in this situation, customers who used debit cards will need to apply to their card issuer for a refund and are in no way guaranteed to get one.