The Instagram clothing business taking customers’ money but failing to deliver
What can you do when an online business strings you along?
After ordering a jumpsuit and a dress from online store Marley the Label, Mere waited patiently for her order. The website said delivery would take 10-15 business days but after a month, it still hadn’t arrived.
When she inquired as to the status of her order, she was met only with polite replies placating her, but was no closer to receiving the goods she’d paid for.
Mere asked for a refund five times over four months. Each time the owner of Marley the Label assured her it would be sorted – but each time it wasn’t.
We stepped in and emailed Marley to ask why Mere hadn’t been refunded. Ten minutes later Mere received an email that the refund had been processed and the money was finally back in her account.
Marley the Label is a New Zealand business founded in 2019 by Keana Marley (also known as Keana Edwards). The clothing business’ Instagram page states it is “New Zealand #1 womens fashion brand” (sic). The owner regularly advertises discount deals.
Mere was first introduced to the label after seeing a friend share photos of party dresses they had purchased from the business. The owner followed Mere on Instagram and she followed him back.
“It took me ages to decide to order something from their website because it seemed a bit sus ... but the owner seemed cool,” Mere said. “Because I knew someone who had bought from them, it made me trust that it was legit.”
A big part of her purchasing decision was wanting to support a local, New Zealand-owned business. However, a Google image search reveals that the clothing sold on Marley the Label is sourced from AliExpress – a popular online marketplace in China known for its cheap, accessible goods which are shipped worldwide. Multiple other online stores sell the exact same clothing, for varying prices.
The Marley and Me saga
19 May: Mere purchased two items from Marley the Label’s website. She paid by laybuy but paid it off in full on her next pay day (25 May), in the hope it would speed up the process.
She received confirmation of her order but no tracking number, despite the website stating it would be included with the confirmation email.
The jumpsuit and dress were $69.99 each but with a 40% discount code, the order came to $83.99.
17 June: After a month of waiting and no sign of her order, Mere emailed Marley the Label asking for a track and trace number so she could see the status of her order. She received no reply.
22 June: Fed up, Mere reached out via private Instagram message to the owner, saying: “I’ve tried to email but no response ... is there an ETA on my order? ... Just would like a follow-up please.”
He replied: “Hey lovely, I’ll take a look in the morning xxx”
19 July: After waiting almost another month and hearing nothing back, Mere emailed again, asking politely for a refund as she had received no communication about her delayed order. She received no reply.
“At the end of the day, it was less than 100 bucks, so it’s not like it was heaps of money. But it’s money that I worked for,” Mere said.
She spoke to her friends who had ordered through the website and learned that they had experienced similarly long wait times. One friend’s order had turned up after a month, while another friend had simply received a refund after a month of waiting.
26 July: Again, Mere asked for a refund. Again, she received no reply.
Throughout this time, Mere could see the owner, Keana Marley, posting regularly on his Instagram page, still offering discount codes to attract new customers.
“It sucks when I follow the owner on Instagram and he posts all of his ‘business stuff’, lavish lifestyle, advertises discounts constantly, but orders take months with no explanation.”
29 July: Mere wrote a private message to Marley the Label’s Instagram page: “I’ve been emailing asking for a refund as I still haven’t received anything, and it’s been well over 2 months ...”
The reply stated that the company doesn’t do refunds and its email had been down. Marley offered a replacement voucher.
Mere: “Am I able to just get what I ordered sent to me?”
1 August: Marley the Label replied: “Yeah babes, of course! What’s your order number again?” Mere sent the order number and asked for a track and trace number to be sent as well.
12 September: Mere reached out yet again. “It’s been 6 weeks and nothing ... give me my money back please.”
Again, Marley responded saying it doesn’t do refunds, only replacement vouchers.
Mere said it wasn’t good enough and she’d like her money back. Marley asked for the account number to refund the money to, which Mere provided. Marley also asked for the order number – information Mere had already sent.
“No track and trace, nothing of my order ... it was just like this is ridiculous, I don’t even care about the clothes any more, I just want my money back.”
29 September: Consumer NZ contacted Marley the Label via email inquiring why the order hadn’t been refunded as promised.
5 October: Marley’s owner replied, apologising for the late response and claiming “I haven't been able to get into my account”.
He claimed he’d already sent the refund and the error was on Shopify's end. “The refund didn’t go through them, it was suppose[d] to come through on their end, I have sent through an email to her [Mere] and I’m more than happy to send that money through again with a screenshot and a voucher on top from us for this experience she has gone through! ... Everything is all sorted on my end with my email!”
Mere received an email from Marley the same day, asking for her account number – yes, the one she’d already provided.
11 October: We emailed Marley’s owner a follow-up, asking if he’d like to provide a comment for this article.
He did not reply to us, but 10 minutes later Mere received an email from him with a screenshot of the refund, and the money was finally in her account.
“Four months of asking and all it took was two emails from you to be sorted,” Mere said.
“It sucks that it’s come down to this. I tried to reach out to him privately multiple times to give him a chance to make it right. He should be more realistic about the damn business he is trying to make and not offer discounts constantly if he can’t even deliver the goods.”
Mere wonders how many other customers have simply given up, thinking they weren’t going to see their money again.
From working in sales, Mere had learnt about the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA).
“I knew what he was doing was wrong, but I came to Consumer to be reassured. I just feel like you would know what to actually do.”
Marley’s owner eventually replied to us but chose not to answer any of our questions. Instead, he simply stated that the issue was resolved as he had now processed the refund and said he’d be happy to send an extra voucher to Mere if she would like that.
Missing in action
Much like his customers’ orders, the website www.marleythelabel.nz has gone MIA. It now mysteriously appears with a message: “This site can’t be reached.” However, the link through the Instagram bio still works, leading to a changed web address.
Marley the Label is only one of Keana Marley’s business ventures. He also runs Thread Streetwear but Consumer found that website mysteriously offline as well. Also, he recently launched a business coaching and mentorship service called Marley in Business, from which prospective business owners can buy packages which will guide them on their path to “becoming their own boss babe”. These range from $350 for the intro pack to $1000 for the deluxe pack, and include such things as marketing overviews and one-on-one video calls with Keana Marley.
Marley the Label’s actions risk breaching both the CGA and the Fair Trading Act (FTA).
What can you do if this happens to you?
Unfair practices are illegal under the FTA and companies can be liable for fines up to $600,000 and individuals up to $200,000. Check out our guide to your rights under the FTA.
Your first step is to contact the seller and give them a chance to remedy the situation. If you can’t resolve your issue directly with the business, the Disputes Tribunal may be your next step.
If you’ve paid by debit card or credit card, you might be able to request a chargeback from your bank. You can request one if the money’s been taken out of your account but you haven’t received the goods in the time frame stated and had no contact from the company after multiple attempts to get in touch.
If you think a retailer has misled you or taken payment from you without having reasonable grounds to believe it can supply the goods on time, you can report the business to the Commerce Commission. The Commission doesn’t act on behalf of individuals and can’t investigate every complaint. But its investigations do help make sure businesses are complying with the law.
If you want advice specific to your situation, you can get in touch with us here. Consumer NZ members can contact us to speak directly with one of our advisers.