A country club in the Pilbara has been inundated with calls from people who have paid deposits to attend a mining exhibition that doesn’t exist.
Perth-based business, Australian Industry and Lifestyle Exhibitions, is advertising a three-day mining and resources expo at the Karratha Country Club for next month on various mining websites, as well as on its own site.
However the club's General Manager Nola Brown says the event has not been booked, ABC reported.
"I'm taking anywhere from two to four calls a day for the last probably three weeks with people who have paid the deposit for the expo and unfortunately can't get their money back," she said.
"It was never ever booked with us.
"Hopefully it's not going to have any kind of reflection on the country club, but unfortunately the website [makes it] look like it was us.
"That was created without any permission from anyone from the country club.”
Speaking to Australian Mining, exhibition organiser John Webb said the president of the country club knew about the event, saying he sent an email with proof of the booking to Brown last night.
However Brown reiterated that while the president of the club recalls speaking to Webb about the exhibition, it was never officially booked.
“It was never, ever, ever, officially booked,” Brown said.
Brown said she was still awaiting the email proof for the booking promised to her by Webb.
Brown said she first noticed something was amiss when she visited a website purporting to be that of the country club promoting the event, but said the proposed set-up was too big for the club to host.
“The plan on it was too big for the country club,” she said.
Brown said she made several attempts to contact Webb, but was not provided with a clear answer on either proof of the booking or further details of the event.
Brown said she feels for the exhibitors who had paid for flights and accommodation to be at the event.
“I told them to hold off on paying any more money,” she said.
Webb told Australian Mining he had emailed exhibitors to let them know the event had been postponed, adding that he did not know why they were putting calls through to the country club.
Webb said he was now in talks with Lesiureplex, Karratha around holding the exhibition there.
In 2009, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found Webb guilty of misleading and deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices Act.
Webb was ordered to pay $50,000 in costs, and attend a TPA compliance seminar, after the watchdog found he had misled consumers in claiming former Prime Minister John Howard and then-WA Premier Geoff Gallop supported mining expos he was in charge of promoting.
Since publishing the story, Australian Mining have been swamped by calls and emails from people who say they have also been burnt by Australian Industry and Lifestyle Exhibitions.
"Many of us have been burnt," one man said on Australian Mining's Facebook page.
"I paid over $5000 to exhibit at the "Singleton Mining & Safety Expo" originally slated for 2011… then postponed 6 months… and another 6months… and another 6 months.
"Every time he (Webb) postpones he sends you an email with the contract wording reminding you he can postpone any time he likes."
While Today Tonight recently spoke to angry exhibitors who had paid thousands of dollars for display stands at events run by Webb, only to have them repeatedely postponed, or extremely low on attendance numbers.
Mark Brennan said he paid $4900 to exhibit at the Gladstone Mining and Resources Expo, but after driving six hours from Brisbane to set up for the event found an empty showground after the show had been cancelled.
“I had no idea it had been cancelled, otherwise I wouldn’t have driven all the way to Gladstone,” Brennan said.