Is there an unluckier person in the mobile phone industry than Michael Richardson? Comment Retail Services was once a successful and innovative configuration and customisation service, but went into administration thanks to main customer Woolworths going bust.
Once upon a time, Richardson was an entrepeneur, with music download service Datz.com beginning to take off. While Comment was an example of how traditional distribution could reinvent itself, Datz became a partner business that could also enhance Comment’s handset customisation offering. It had a promising brand, perhaps overlooked by consumers who found it easier to seek out rivals like iTunes.
The term ‘domino effect’ couldn’t be more appropriate, with Richardson’s businesses the unlucky pawns caught in Woolworths’ dusty wake.
But Richardson is small fry to record label giants like EMI and Sony, who just want their money, not caring about the circumstances causing Datz’s downfall.
Customers that signed up to the flat rate service of £99.99 a year have also lost out, but as business collapses go, there generally isn’t much left over for refunds, and all Richardson can offer is sympathy while he searches for employment.
It’s a sad story, but a lesson in how quickly things can collapse when a recession sparks a run of unintended consequences.