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Church complains over unpaid refund from Auckland-based designer

22 November 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Mabel Muller -

Members of a Tongan church in the United States have raised concerns over an unpaid refund from an Auckland-based fashion designer who failed to deliver the order on time.

The Free Church of Tonga in Salt Lake City, Utah claims it made an order worth more than $5,000 USD to BOU's, for clothing that was due to be worn at a church conference back in April.

On its Facebook business page, it states BOU's is located in Lynfield Auckland and is owned and operated by Tongan designer Bou Tanginoa Fonua and husband Sione Fonua.

A showcase of BOU's fashion line with Bou Tanginoa Fonua (left). Photo/ Facebook.

Denise Koli from the Free Church of Tonga in the US says she made the order late last year which BOU's agreed to make and required full payment to be in by January this year.

Koli says the church kept its end of the deal, however when the order was due to arrive in early March, it never arrived.

She says messages from BOU's detailed delays because of its manufacturers and courier service from China.

The order eventually arrived a week after the event had finished.

Koli says church members were angry, however Mr Fonua personally called the church minister to apologise and agreed to refund the full cost, for failing to meet the deadline.

"We had paid the full amount in January because she said she wanted all the money by then. We done that... Since she knew she had screwed up pretty bad, she said the only thing they can do, is they will refund everyone's money," says Koli.

Messages between Denise Koli and Sione Fonua seen by PMN shows BOU's promise to deliver the refund within three to four weeks after the order was received late. 

But Koli says when she followed up with BOU's again she was given more excuses.

"They kept promising us we will get a refund. They would always just give me excuses... When they promised us that we should get our money by July, they flew to the Tongan beauty pageant."

After the pageant, Koli says she was again promised a refund would be paid out by September but Mr Fonua blocked her from contacting him.

"He said we would get our refund in September and when I messaged and asked him on the week, he straight blocked me on Facebook and Messenger and they flew out the next day to London to whatever showcase they had."

Koli says she tried to reach out to Mrs Fonua instead and got blocked from her as well.

"I told Bou, 'Your husband blocked me on Messenger and we haven't got our refund'. After I sent her that message she deleted me on Facebook."

Koli says she's frustrated with BOU's false promises and lack of professionalism and integrity. She's now looking to pursue legal action against the designer.

"She's very talented, her husband is very talented and I praise them for the talent they have, design wise and that... but we will never order from them again."

"I want them to keep to their word... I just want everyone to get their money back that was promised by her and her husband."

PMN has seen messages with receipts of money paid to BOU's and has requested a response from designer Bou Tanginoa Fonua.