Australian Industry and Lifestyle Exhibitions and its owner John Webb are in the spotlight once more over alleged claims of dodgy dealings regarding mining exhibitions.
The Singleton Mining OH&S Expo has been postponed for the sixth time in over a year while the Brisbane Mining Exhibition, which was advertised to run on the same dates of 14-16 March 2014, did not go ahead either.
Exhibitors claim John Webb has no intention of going ahead with either shows, or the other many being advertised around the country.
The Brisbane Mining Expo was originally scheduled to run on the 6th – 8th August 2013, but was postponed by Webb who said the show will be moved to the RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane.
RNA told Australian Mining there was no exhibition booked for March.
Speaking to Webb last month, he said the Brisbane Expo was on track to run in March stating it would now be held at Logan Sports Centre, however that venue told Australian Mining they did not have a booking for the show either.
Webb said his company was in the midst of a sale and blamed this for the lack of readily accessible information online surrounding details about his company’s exhibitions
He says the Australian Industry and Lifestyle Events website was taken down due to the sale.
Webb shirked responsibility for “misinformation” published online by third party websites (such as 10times, Hello Trade and Business Vibes) relating to the dates and locations of mining exhibitions.
But exhibitors who have paid money to exhibit their wares, only to have shows postponed and moved to various locations, aren’t convinced.
One would-be exhibitor said her company had paid $5000 to attend the Brisbane Expo and claims the most recent confusion was a ploy by Webb to retain people’s money.
“We didn’t hear anything from him until 8 weeks prior to the Brisbane’s August show and I started trying to contact him or anyone in the company to clarify which convention centre in Brisbane the show was being held at because he had provided two locations on various documentation and websites.
“I thought it unusual that we hadn’t received any information or an exhibitor manual to start ordering requirements and advertising considering the expo was less than 8 weeks away.”
The woman says when she spoke to Webb on the phone around six weeks before the August show dates, he assured her the expo was going ahead.
“About an hour later I received an email from his reception's general email address saying the Brisbane Expo had been postponed,” she said.
“He kept referring to his terms and conditions about postponing whenever he wanted. He told me I couldn’t have my money back because he had already spent it,” she said.
The women said in August exhibitors arrived at both RNA Showgrounds and the Brisbane Convention Centre expecting the exhibition to be held, only to find nothing happening.
“Two venues were advertised during the timeframe,” she said.
“He creates confusion and then just wipes the shows. It’s not fair on people who have paid money to be there.”
Another woman said she has had similar dealings with Webb and tried to contact him without success in the weeks leading up to the August show.
After not hearing any information around the August show she started to become suspicious.
“When you Google his name your stomach just lurches,” she said.
The women said she was first suspicious of Webb when he requested she pay the full amount for the Brisbane exhibition upfront.
“Up until something like this happens to you, you’re trusting,” she said.
Webb told Australian Mining that his customers were aware of Terms and Conditions in their contracts which stipulates his company :
"..has at its sole discretion the right to change the name, Events Venue, Exhibitor’s Stand location or size, facilities, dates or timing of the Exhibition. In the event AI&LE changes any aspects of the Exhibition from those represented to the Exhibitor at the time of acceptance of this contract."
“In the terms and conditions they’ve signed it says that we can change the venue and dates,” Webb said.
However other exhibitors Australian Mining have talked to say they have received no correspondence from Webb around exhibition postponements or venue changes.
The Pilbara Mining & Resource Expo is also a cause of confusion for visitors after it was revealed last year the original venue of the Karratha Country Club claims it had not received a booking for the show.
An online ad says the exhibition is due to be held in July this year at Claremont Showgrounds.
Talking to an event organiser at Claremont Showgrounds, Australian Mining was told the exhibition is not booked.
Webb told Australian Mining the show will now be held at Leisureplex in Karratha.
Australian Mining understands while a date has been reserved at the complex for July, final confirmation as well as a deposit has not been made with the centre.
The Mackay-Bowen Mining & Resource Expo is also being advertised online to be held on the 14-16th of May 2014.
However a call to the MacKay Entertainment Convention Centre reveals there is no booking at this venue either.
The expo was originally planned for November last year but was postponed until April 2014, however there is no listing online regarding the show.
Australian Mining asked Webb how he wanted to respond to claims he was a con artist.
“I say they’re completely false,” he answered.
“We’re not using their money to buy holiday villas.”
However those who have paid money are calling on The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to act.
“I have contacted ACCC and I know about 15 companies that have had the issue,” one woman said.
“Authorities aren’t doing anything – they’ve got no teeth.
“They say there has to be proof Webb has no intention of running a show. But with no venue, no advertising, and postponement after postponement, isn’t it clear there is no intention what-so-ever?”
After being made aware this story was going to press John Webb said:
“All exhibitions have been postponed until further notice due to adverse publicity and my personal illness.”
Webb says all exhibitions will be held by the middle of 2015.