What happened to Trading Post Australia?

John Avis by | February 14, 2018 | General

While looking for a new car to buy – without much success – I looked further afield than the usual carsales.com.au and gumtree.com.au and found myself at tradingpost.com.au. Oh how they have gone down hill...
Trading Post masthead

While looking for a new car to buy – without much success – I looked further afield than the usual carsales.com.au and gumtree.com.au and found myself at tradingpost.com.au.

I last remember Trading Post being owned by Telstra/Sensis and was surprised to no longer see any references to them.

I wasn’t surprised that the quality of car ads was just as bad as I recall, mostly just dealer ads, 99% of which probably get put up automatically for free by their dealership management software.

I was curious who now owned Trading Post and scrolled to the footer where I noticed that they were now a Pte Ltd indicating they were no longer an Australian company. They were also indicating that they were tradingpost.com, which suggested that maybe there was an international Trading Post that they were part of.

Strangely tradingpost.com did not actually go to a website, just an error page, which seems a waste of a domain name, and it is also strange that you would call yourself tradingpost.com if tradingpost.com is not actually a website.

A little Google-ing revealed that Trading Post was sold for an amount believed to be less than $10M (Telstra paid $636M in 2004) around 2015 to a group of entrepreneurs including Geoff Holmes, formerly of Carsales, DealerAds (to do with eBay Motors) and a company called Unique Websites.

Unique Websites were mentioned as having been operating Trading Post for Telstra since 2013.

Trading Post were apparently attempting to raise $15M in 2017 and I guess were successful as they purchased Service Central.

A little digging on LinkedIn reveals that Trading Post and Unique Websites appear to be one group based out of Singapore or Malaysia.

Strangely the ACCC prevented a sale of Trading Post to carsales.com.au in 2012, but no one prevented it from going overseas.

Which brings me to the point of this post. How can a company raise tens of millions of dollars and produce such a crap product?

Why crap? Firstly, the marketing of Trading Post appears to be poor and there doesn’t seem to be any innovation. You are going to have to come up with something better than just free ads if you are going to take on Gumtree, etc.

Then there’s the aforementioned issue of calling themselves tradingpost.com in quite a few places but not actually having a website at that address. People, just have tradingpost.com as an alias of tradingpost.com.au – surely you have someone there who can do that?

They have an amazing 25,500 people following them on Facebook yet in the “About” section they list their website as tradingshoes.com! They don’t even appear to own that domain name as it goes to one of those generic domain placeholder websites and they are not listed as the owner in whois. Very strange.

Trading Post on Facebook

And then we get to Unique Websites. Here’s a website that looks like it was made a decade or more ago and has remained completely unchanged since then. The CSS file is dated 2010 which gives an idea of when it might have last had any work done.

It’s not mobile-friendly, their phone number is only partly visible in the header, there is a missing image in the footer, their support documents refer to versions of Outlook from ten years ago, and their client login goes to an error page.

It doesn't use SSL and there isn't even a favicon.

I was tempted to call the number (if I could figure out the missing digits) and just check they were still around and how shocked they might sound if they actually got a call.

Unique Websites

I wonder how long it’s going to take to get back those tens of millions of dollars with just Google Ads?

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Comments

Jacqui Dunn

by Jacqui Dunn | March 27, 2019

HEllo I was interested to read your blog. I have recently been contacted by Trading Post trying to intimidate me to pay an overdue amount for advertising from 2013 now plus late payment fines. When I cancelled my advertising with Trading Post in 2013 it was via phone. They are now telling me as I have no email proof of the cancellation I now owe them this charge. They have sent me invoices from December 2018 for the alleged overdue amount and now incurring a monthly late payment charge. I notice their invoices have no abn. I would appreciate some advise as to who I can speak with the handle this matter. I have offered to pay them the initial amount they allege I owe but dispute the interest charges. They have refused my offer. I feel this is a scam and a shady company to deal with.

Reply

John

by John | March 27, 2019

Hi Jacqui. Not sure I can be of much help, but in situations like that I usually like to go straight to the top. I found Geoff Holmes' email address online, try him at geoff@tradingpost.com.au or geoff@uniquewebsites.com.au. There's a phone number of 07 4033 2224 listed which might reach him. If you can't get a result from contacting him, I would make your opinion well known on social media by posting on their Facebook and leaving reviews on Facebook and Google, maybe telling them what you are going to do first to give them a chance to reconsider.

Looking at their websites though, chasing money from 2013 is probably their only income stream.

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...mostly about web development and programming, with a little bit of anything else related to the Internet, computers and technology.

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