Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ocean Spirit locals card debacle

As a cardholder Loose Change was quite peeved to receive this letter yesterday as he had only used his reef card once this year. Ocean Spirits has now been sold and the cards will no longer be accepted with 5 months still to expiry.

Ocean Spirits introduced the card last year. While there were problems booking at peak times the cost of $200/single and $350/family provided affordable reef trips for locals. Last years offer was to include Rum Runner out of Cape Trib, however this boat never went back into the water for last years season. I did eventually get value for money last year so decided to renew.

This situation is not uncommon with this kind of offer. Diners who bought into last years Table 52 card offer may have found that Pier Bar would not accept thheir 2-for-1 card after a change of ownership through the year. When Angus & Robertson went into administration earlier this year they controversially changed conditions and dates on gift vouchers, requiring additional cash expenditure equivalent to the value of the voucher redeemed. The  administrator indicated that holders of unused gift vouchers may register to become unsecured creditors.

The Cairns Post has a report on this today: Families angry after unlimited reef trip passes axed 5 months before expiry, which includes some robust commentary. Complaints to Queensland Fair Trading are suggested  by Choice, and some further inquiries here are intended also, and perhaps with ACCC. Clearly there is an issue with consumer protection in this area.

The seller of Ocean Spirits, Macro Corporation Limited, is an ASX listed company, and as that was its only operating business there is a good deal of public information available. The business was sold for $3.8million to Jai Tourism & Leisure, believed to have Indian connections. The proposal documentation provided for shareholder approval in September indicates that purchase price adjustments would include "an amount where the Seller has received prepayments for services to be provided by the Ocean Spirit Business after Completion". Presumably any adjustment didn't include the prepaid reef cards!

The deal did not include the Ocean Spirits IV dinner cruise vessel which is up for sale separately as Macro's only remaining tourism asset. A follow-up post may be required after further investigation of account details, particularly some messing about with boat valuations which drew some attention and qualification from the auditor.

Meanwhile, we reef card holders can console ourselves that while we may not be bound for Michaelmas Cay, the good chaps at Macro intend to retain an ASX listing and divert any remaining funds from the sale, to which we have selflessly contributed, into mining and commodities trading.


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