Fair Go: Customers let down by 'rude' spray tan business owner

Thousands of people every day are entering competitions online, and trusting that someone, somewhere will receive the advertised prize. 

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Fair Go went to battle with Matt Docherty, aka the Tan Man, on behalf of the frustrated customers. Source: Fair Go

Lynette Fray was one of those people having spotted some competitions on "The Tan Man's" Facebook page. All she had to do was send in photos of spray tan lines. One was called a Hot Cross Bum competition, asking for stencils of crosses to be sprayed on buttocks, the other was for some straightforward clean, crisp tan lines. 

Every person was to receive a $50 prize pack just for entering, and the big winning prize was a $400 spray tan machine. Lynette thought it was worth trying her luck. She'd recently taken up helping out her friends in Stratford, Taranaki, who longed for a golden glow during the long cold, winter. 

She had basic gear, but the idea of upgrading was very appealing. So she sprayed away, took the photos, and sent them off. 

Not long after, Lynette was thrilled to be told her tan lines had taken out top spot, and so a spray tan device was on its way. Or so she thought. A few weeks later, no prize had turned up, and no $50 prize pack either. 

The messaging began between Lynette and "The Tan Man", also known as Matt Docherty. Matt runs several spray tan related businesses, selling BGorgeous products, conducting spray tan training through his the "Spray Tan University", and running a salon in Casebrook, Christchurch. 

Lynette says she sent lots of messages, but rarely heard back. At one point she was sent a courier tracking number for her prize, but another week or two later, still nothing to show for it. 

Matt Docherty explained to Fair Go that it was an error by casual staff where the package was ticketed but not couriered. Lynette says this explanation wasn't offered to her. She still hadn't received either the prize or the prize pack, and it was now months down the line. 

She felt like she was getting nowhere, so she posted on "The Tan Man's" page asking others about their experience of his business. Several customers replied saying they weren't happy with how they were treated, and others also complained about no prize packs. 

Lynette's post was deleted, but she also looked online and found lots of reviews giving Matt's business just one star, with complaints about overnight deliveries taking months, and rude customer service. 

Feeling frustrated, Lynette fired off an email. She told Fair Go, "I was quite rude which I probably shouldn't have been but due to being so frustrated it just came out". 

Matt's response was to post Lynette's email publicly, along with her name. Lynette felt this wasn't a very professional response, adding, "it made him look like a real tool, it showed his true colours".

Along with this post came a response to Lynette, which stated, "Your attitude and frankly disgraceful handling of the situation is the reason Matt has decided to retract your prize, there is no legal obligation for Matt to provide you a $400 spray tan system".

This is incorrect. Under consumer law, Matt is obliged to send the prize, and the prize pack. The fact a customer became frustrated by the long delay is not a valid excuse to withhold the goods they've legitimately won. 

Lynette says a lot of other women supported her, and told her they'd no longer do business with Matt. Some of these women spoke to us. Along with the complaints about delays, they said they were appalled by the "rude, arrogant" response when they tried to get their problems sorted. 

In one specific case, a customer said they'd purchased a $500 unlimited tanning voucher for a tanning salon run by Matt in Auckland, only to find the salon closed down a few weeks later.

She wasn't the only one affected. She says all the voucher-holders were told in an automated message that a refund would be on its way for the portion of the voucher unused.

But nothing was repaid. On the phone, the customer who spoke to us described this as fraud, saying "I would like my money back". 

Lynette would also like her prizes, but more than this, she wanted to see an end to what she described as Matt's "bullying" behaviour. Fair Go contacted Matt, who directed all our questions to his lawyer. 

The response sent through his lawyer made no apology for any of Matt's actions, instead it was a list of explanations for all the delays, lack of prizes, and lack of refunds. It also stated that Matt would make amends in all these situations, and he acknowledged their response to Lynette's queries was not appropriate. 

That's obviously a great outcome, but it's a shame it took Fair Go to get involved to achieve action that should have been taken by the company anyway. 

We can confirm Lynette has now received her prize. She was excited to open it, but not so thrilled to see what she says was evidence that it had already been used! She says there was tanning liquid in the device already.

Matt denies this and says it was brand new. Either way, at least Lynette has her prize, and her prize pack, and we hope that all the other customers left out of pocket will see a similarly good result.