Bag seller, whose former business partner owes her $550,000, takes dispute online

Bag seller, whose former business partner owes her $550,000, takes dispute online

At 30, she is saddled with a debt of $400,000 to her clients and $700,000 to her investors, all because of a failed business venture.

And this is on top of the $100,000 she used from her savings to appease angry customers who demanded refunds.

Miss Serene Zhao blames her "bad financial situation" on her former business partner, Madam Joan Chua, 31, with whom she entered into a luxury handbag business last year.

Madam Chua, who said she could secure the bags from an overseas source, failed to deliver the goods after her source became uncontactable.

Miss Zhao then sued Madam Chua in the High Court, seeking $1.3 million in damages.

After about a year of pre-trial conferences, Madam Chua agreed to pay her $550,000 in a settlement in September.

Miss Zhao said she has yet to receive a single cent.

"She tried to defend herself, which made me feel she's innocent, but till today I have received nothing from her," the former Singapore Airlines stewardess told The New Paper yesterday.

"She should at least fulfil one of her many promises."

In June, TNP reported on Miss Zhao's problems with her customers, who had accused her of cheating them.

Miss Zhao said she first met Madam Chua early last year on designer bag online forum Deluxemall, where she sold her a wallet.

They kept in contact and Madam Chua broached the idea of a branded bag business as she had a contact who could help her secure merchandise.

Miss Zhao said: "I was intending to go into concierge services (helping people buy goods from overseas) when she approached me. So I thought, why not?"

CONFRONTATION

In June last year, they started the business, which dealt mostly with Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags.

Records from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority show that Miss Zhao registered her company, Yuniquely, in that period.

She started confronting Madam Chua about possible bag delays in August, two months after the orders were placed.

"Joan would gave me various reasons, like how the bag manufacturer went on a holiday or that it was due to overwhelming orders (for Hermes bags) around the world.

"She would tell me the expected arrival date of the delayed bags, which I would convey to my clients. But the bags never turned up.

"My customers got so angry because I kept making empty promises," Miss Zhao said.

She refunded deposits for 10 bags worth about $100,000. Other customers who did not receive refunds hounded her with endless calls and messages.

She said she became depressed.

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