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The latest casualty of the economic slowdown appears to be pureplay internet retailer 247 Electrical, which has closed its online store.
The 247 Electrical website currently displays a “we are having some technical difficulties” message on its homepage (the only page that works), but a closer look at the title bar presents a more ominous statement: “STORE CLOSED”.
The retailer is not accepting any calls, with inbound enquiries diverted straight to voicemail. A message advises customers to “visit the website”, or to call back during trading hours (I called during the middle of a weekday).
A call to 247 MD Dominic Yacoubian for clarification also diverts to voicemail.
As such, I’ll stop short of saying the firm has closed down (it remains active, as far as Companies House is concerned), but the signs aren’t good.
Retailers do not display ‘store closed’ messages on their website for no good reason, nor do they close their doors for five days during the busiest trading period of the year.
It is also worth mentioning that the firm was running a ‘clearance sale’ a couple of weeks ago.
The website has been offline since Saturday, according to beleaguered customer Linda McArtney, who is struggling to find some answers from the firm about the status of a recent order.
“Perhaps Dominic Yacoubian could tell me what has happened to my oven that I bought from his company on 11th November. His company took my money from my bank account (debit card) on the 12th November. I had an email on 13th stating that my order had been dispatched and I would be hearing from Hi Way express about delivering my order. I heard nothing.”
“I tried to then email his site to ask where my order was last Saturday 23rd November only to be shown a "site closed" and it still is. I have rung two telephone numbers and been advised by an automated message that the offices are closed.”
“I would like to know where my oven is and when I am going to receive it or when I am going to get a refund. I am out of pocket by £159 with Christmas coming up. I cannot afford to lose this money. Perhaps he could tell me how I am going to cook Christmas dinner for my family?”
We’ll have to see how this unfolds, but if the company has gone under then the messaging needs to change to provide customers with more information.
And if not then, website issues aside, it needs to turn on its telephone lines and start communicating with worried customers. It should also ditch that 'store closed' notice.
Additionally, there’s little point in 247 continuing to buy ads on Google Adwords, as it is doing, when the website doesn’t work...
UPDATE: As per Jonathan Beeston's comment below, the company has confirmed that it has ceased trading due to cashflow issues. Bad luck to all concerned and affected by this.
Chris Lake is editor in chief at E-consultancy and can be found Twittering here.