Orchard Country Market Orchard Farmstall, Wayne Lee Warden New owner sells stock, but refuses to pay suppliers Grabouw Internet!!
Orchard Country Market Farmstall in Grabouw is one of our clients selling printed books. We have twice supplied them with books on consignment, which the previous owner signed for (during 2010). When we telephoned the Farmstall to pay for the books early this year (2011), we were informed that the business was sold to a new owner, Wayne Lee-Warden. Following several calls, we were informed that the new owner would only pay us a few cents in the rand for the outstanding debt of ZAR2,324.91….Following another set of calls, I finally managed to speak to Mr Lee-Warden (19 Oct 2011) and was told the same by him. I informed him that this procedure could only be decided upon by a legal team if the business was being closed down which in fact it was not. He said that hundreds of creditors accepted this and I should as well. I stated that I would not, as he bought the business as a running concern, which entails that he pay the suppliers. He then swore at me and ended the call….We sent him a Letter of Demand on email and registered mail (19 Oct 2011), which he failed to collect. We received no reply whatsoever, and instructed our attorney to send Mr Lee-Warden a Letter of Demand (9 Nov 2011). Mr Lee-Warden then replied with a fabricated story that he informed us of the sale of the business and to collect our stock, which is absolutely untrue. Our attorney advised us that to proceed would cost more than what we stand to recover from him….With the legal route effectively closed, we approached the Small Claims Court, and was informed that they only deal with individuals, not with companies. I then approached the Cape Law Society, Legal Aid and…Citizen Advice, all of whom were unable to assist. On 6 Dec 2011 I reported the matter to the police, and after my statement was taken, I was informed that they could not provide me with a case number as it was a civil matter and not a criminal matter, ie it was not theft but breach of contract. The following day, I called a local radio station and a listener responded to say that they have the exact same problem as a small business: the cost of contracts for small clients are far too high, but if a client refuses to pay there is no affordable legal assistance whatsoever. The only suggestion she had was to make it public in the media and…complaint websites such as www.yscam.com and warn other suppliers….We informed Mr Lee-Warden and the Farmstall that we will give them one last chance to make payment, failing which we make the matter public. To this day, we have not received another word nor payment. What is ironic, is that my family and I have for years supported the Farmstall en route to our holiday homes….