That's the end of Datz, but why was it ever launched?

17 September 2009

A month on since we warned you that Datz Music Lounge was in serious trouble, the company has officially ceased trading and gone into liquidation. Music Week reports that the company is unable to pay its debts to labels, and that a sale as a going concern is highly unlikely. The Datz Music Lounge site (and that of pay-per-download sister site Datz.com) have now completely disappeared.

Music Week also located Managing Director Michael Richardson and extracted a soundbite from him:

“If Nokia or Microsoft or another of the big players came up with the Music Lounge then no doubt they would be in a bloody strong position. Unfortunately a few oiks from Oxfordshire and didn’t quite have that clout.”

"Oik" isn't quite the word we'd use to describe Richardson, given that Datz refused to return the emails or phonecalls of customers, the media or even retailers while continuing to allow the sale of Datz Music Lounge CD and USB stick package when he couldn't provide the product as sold. There's another word we'd use to describe that sort of thing.

Richardson goes on to explain the company’s problems date back to the closure of Woolworths:

"Datz’ sister company Comment ran supplied Woolworths with mobile phones, and this revenue was supposed to keep Datz on track with its payments to labels. Woolworths’ closure meant that Datz was forced to operate as a stand-alone business and eventually ran out of money."

In fact we uncovered the trail back to Woolworths nearly a month ago; we also learnt that Comment went into administration barely a month after the Datz Music Store launched. So despite the entire financial security of Datz resting on Comment, it was still launched despite the fact Comment was only a month away from folding. Since Richardson was the MD of both companies, what was he thinking?

According to Music Week, the Datz Music Lounge product has not been on sale since the website vanished a week ago, but this isn't the case. We found that eBuyer we're still selling vouchers for Datz on Tuesday; we informed them of Datz's difficulties and the product was immediately pulled from sale:

Bitterwallet - eBuyer pulls Datz from sale
eBuyer management also told us that Michael Richardson was not returning their calls either. eBuyer acted quickly and in the interests of their customers - the same can't be said of Sainsbury's. We informed their press office of Datz's situation on August 19th and have been in touch several times since. But yesterday we heard from Bitterwallet reader Geoff Whitworth:

Last night I spent fifteen minutes in Sainsbury' branch at Leicester Fosse Park. They still had a copy on display in the small electrics cabinet at £49.99. Several times at the customer service desk I reiterated that the product should be removed from sale, but since they have apparently not received any advice from head office and the SKU is active, I presume they have not done this. I’ve now emailed customer services four times, all without anything but automated responses.

Geoff eventually got a refund, but not without a fight. What are Sainsbury's playing at here? We can't tell you because Sainsbury's still won't tell us. Yesterday we contacted their press office once more and made it patently clear they were ripping off customers by continuing to sell a product that didn't exist. They promised to get back to us with a statement and a promise that action had been taken. Unsurprisingly, they haven't bothered. Again.

Meanwhile, if it's any consolation to those of you who are out of pocket, Datz director Anna Cole-Morgan told Billboard she feels "very guilty" about people who bought the product in its latter days. There you go - take that to the bank and cash it.

5 comments

  • xman
    But why did Geoff pay for such a daft product in the first place?
  • Geoff
    Because the concept was good. Download as many DRM free MP3's from major labels for a year for a fixed fee - what's daft about that?
  • Geoff
    That should have read 'as many DRM free MP3's as you want' of course.
  • Geoff
    Okay, final post. Just received a response from Sainsburys: 'Dear Geoff Thanks for your communication about the Datz Music Lounge you bought recently. I appreciate your patience while I’ve investigated this matter on your behalf. The company responsible for this product has now gone out of business. Consequently the service they offered has ceased. The product has now been withdrawn from all our stores and I’m happy to tell you if you return the package to one of our stores with the receipt you will be entitled to a full refund. I appreciate you taking the time to contact us about this matter. Kind regards Glyn Tovey Customer Manager'
  • A B.
    [...] organ may remember the demise of Datz – a subscription-based music service – which went into administration over a year ago. Sainsbury’s were the key retail partner for the company, which fell apart after the collapse [...]

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