City Cave closure leaves Queenstown customers hundreds out of pocket

by Lauren Pattemore - Dec 11, 2023

The closure of wellness business City Cave has left local customers with unclaimed vouchers and credits for massages and floats unsure if they'll receive any refund for them.

Recent social media reports regarding City Cave Queenstown reveal one customer that has more than $700 in unused treatments, and another, $300.

Crux contacted franchise co-owner Luke Hutchinson today (Monday, December 11) to ask if customers were likely to see any of their money returned to them.

However for now, Mr Hutchinson is unwilling to provide a response, saying he needs to discuss the matter with his business partner before commenting further.

City Cave Queenstown is operated as a franchisee business under Hutchinson and Hunter Limited, and Mr Hutchinson says the business closed a few months ago.

A post on a Queenstown Facebook group referencing the business has attracted more than 180 comments from concerned customers, many of them saying they had received little information about the state of their vouchers and credits.  

One such customer contacted Crux today hopeful shining some light on the situation may provide some resolution for out-of-pocket users.

Crux understands parent franchise company NZ Cave Co Limited has replied to some enquiring customers recommending they seek legal advice if they are owed money or services or have outstanding credit. 

"We are disappointed at the decision by the Franchise Owner to abandon their business, and sincerely apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause," the company says in an email.

It says the business hopes to reopen in Queenstown at a new location with a new franchise owner in the future. 

ConsumerNZ has also weighed in on the issue, with the consumer rights organisation generally not a fan of vouchers, warning people they may not see their money again. 

Its communications manager Jessica Walker says under insolvency law, customers who pay upfront for a product or service are considered unsecured creditors.

Her advice: It’s not always possible to get any money back but you should make a claim straight away with the liquidator. 

"If you paid for the voucher with a credit or debit card it’s worth talking to your bank to see if you can get a chargeback."

Coming up to Christmas, Ms Walker says the organisation recommends gifting cash rather than gift cards because "there's no strings attached", but they have produced a naughty and nice list for gift card purchasing advice, which has been broken down by generous, unlimited to short expiry dates. 

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