Saturday, 25 May 2013

DV or not DV...Zat iz ze question

A forum for DV customers, suppliers and staff – past and present – to post their experiences of the wunderbar new shopping experience

The background.

On May 10th 2013, White Rabbit Records Limited, the owners of DV247 (Digital Village) ceased trading. Simultaneously, a new company, DV247 Limited, took over the assets of the company (but not the liabilities) and attempted to continue business as if nothing had happened.

Not quite…

At 10.42 am on May 10th, minutes after this magical Paul Daniel-esque disappearing (white) rabbit trick, in a piece of disinformation that would even make Tony Blair blush, Gavin James of Digital Village posted this remarkable piece on the Sound On Sound forum.


Something very exciting has happened here at DV247 and it is with great pleasure that we unveil our new partnership with the European retail giant, Music Store.

As part of the transition we will be moving all our back orders over to our new system where we will be able to allocate existing orders which should ship immediately. As a result, customers will receive an email from either the sales person they placed their order with or one of our ‘My Order’ team who will provide a date on which to expect delivery.

Please be assured that this is a well-planned procedure and we have made every effort to ensure a smooth transition…

When I first read this, I assumed it was an attempt at sarcasm by a hacker. After all, who in their right mind would sack a third of their workforce, write off millions of pounds owing in redundancy pay, unpaid invoices to suppliers, VAT and PAYE due to HMRC, close seven stores without warning and effectively decimate the lives of many staff and small suppliers and then announce brazenly that ‘Something very exciting is happening here…

Has the man no shame? Has he not one iota of sympathy for longstanding colleagues sacked overnight without warning or proper compensation? Has he no embarrassment at stiffing scores of suppliers who have supported his business for twenty years?
I think this statement speaks volumes for the ethos and callousness of DV management.

Oh, and it’s also factually misleading.

Firstly, DV’s relationship with the new owners (Koelner Parkhaus GmbH, as associate company of MSP - Music Store Cologne) is as much a partnership as my relationship with you, whoever you are. MSP, or their convoluted holding company (details please, DV 247 - I'd love to know the tax and other relationships between all involved) own the new company, lock stock and barrel. There is not the slightest whiff of partnership involved. DV247 Ltd is as German as BMW, Volkswagen or Bratwurst.

Back orders…ah, here’s an interesting issue.

As part of his purchase of THE ASSETS of White Rabbit Records Ltd (including the website, customer and mailing list, Romford property, goodwill – ha! – fixtures and fittings and stock), Michael Sauer, the owner of Music Store, claims that he will honour in excess of £350,000 of back orders - £350,000 of customer’s money taken by DV almost certainly in the full knowledge that they would never be able to supply the goods. So well done, Herr Sauer. Hmmm…looking a little more closely, he’s not being quite as generous as first meets the eye. Firstly, because Music Store now has the right to collect over £400,000 of money owed to DV, somewhat more than the ‘generous’ agreement to supply gear already paid for by customers. And secondly, because I am very reliably informed that MSP paid the whopping total of £27,000 for all DV’s stock. Yes, that’s right – less than the price of an average second hand Mercedes.

Now, just how much stock has he acquired for the around the cost of a modest bedroom studio? It’s impossible to say, as according to the administrators, Grant Thornton, they didn’t bother to get a valuation of the stock, the fixtures and fittings (computers, networks, desks, vehicles if any, shop display units and a mass of other trappings) or even the Romford property, acquired as part of MSP’s dodgy ‘prepack’ acquisition.

So DV had £27,000 of stock, did they? Not according to accounts filed eighteen months before, where the figure seems closer to £4 millions. Not according to strong rumours of £1.5 millions of stock currently locked in the warehouse of their distribution company. And not according to the flashy photographs of the ‘Romford Superstore’ blazoned all over their website.

But as Gavin James so proudly and publicly bleats, customers awaiting their orders should be in receipt of an email from the salesman they dealt with (maybe forwarded from the dole office) detailing when they should receive goods. If you’re one of these customers, please post details of your experiences below. Did you receive the email? More to the point, have you received your order yet? I’d like to hear from you – ideally good news, but if not, let me know anyway.

So what of this stock? Of course, most (and more) was unpaid for and in all likelihood will never be paid for. The most recent figure I’ve heard was that unpaid bills to suppliers top £3 millions and counting. Most suppliers have something called ROT (retention of title), which means that if the goods haven’t been paid for, they remain the property of the supplier, who can reclaim them. But as with all aspects of this appalling saga, nothing is as simple as it seems. Indeed, as more and more information comes to light, it seems that this prepack was rushed through with indecent haste, maybe because the directors knew that the warehouse was about to foreclose on stock due to unpaid bills, or maybe because DV had not submitted their accounts for the year ending 30th September 2012 and were about to be blacklisted by credit rating agencies and therefore suppliers, who’s insurers would immediately stop cover because of the failure to submit accounts.

Anyway, what of the very, very many items of unpaid stock that have already been sold? Well, the unlucky purchaser may soon receive a letter telling them that they don’t actually own the goods they paid for and have received, which must now be returned to the original supplier. And as for all the goods in the Romford store and distribution warehouse subject to ROT, the lawyers are sharpening their teeth and polishing their fins as they circle what by all accounts is becoming an embattled and increasingly isolated company. There is a sniff blood in the waters around Romford…

The managers of DV Romford (the same bunch that cleverly steered the company onto the rocks) are still at the helm and are refusing to release anything to suppliers including, I’m told, stock loaned to them for demonstration purposes and to which, therefore, DV 247 Limited have not the slightest legal claim. So much of the much vaunted stock that the advertisements and website loudly promotes and shows in the racks at Romford actually belongs to others and is effectively being held hostage. But the bulk of stock - £1.5 millions – is locked in a distribution warehouse in lieu of unpaid warehousing and shipping bills. And my understanding of the legal position is that irrespective of whether much of this stock belongs to suppliers, the warehousing company may have the right to auction off the gear to settle their outstanding account, adding insult to injury.

So where are we now?

It may seem that the initial outrage and kafuffle surrounding the bankruptcy and prepack sale have died down. Not a bit of it. For despite the tailing off of public protest, behind the scenes the legal artillery are lining up. The MIA (a trade association) have taken specialist legal advice, which has questioned the legality of several aspects of the sale. Indeed, I suspect that our friend Gavin James may live to regret so proudly trumpeting the ‘…well planned procedure’ as many aspects of that planning may prove to have been so ‘well planned’ as to be unlawful.

Mr. James may well have to explain his ill-chosen words in the High Court one of these days.

So while the battalions of lawyers sharpen their quills and wade through a pile of statutes, DV will attempt to persuade the outside world that it’s business as normal.

But is it?

I have yet to hear of a single UK supplier who has agreed to sell to the new DV247 Ltd company. There may be some, but in that most if not all are owed money, none are likely to reopen accounts and resume supplies until and unless they are paid. And White Rabbit Records Limited would appear to have no remaining assets with which to satisfy creditors – MSP bought pretty much anything of value (for a pittance it is rumoured). Similarly, all the UK suppliers I’ve spoken to have made clear that they won’t repair or replace faulty goods until their outstanding bills are paid, even if they are under warranty. Why should they? Indeed, many already have goods awaiting repair in their workshops where they will continue to malinger, possibly until Romford freezes over.

But never mind, MSP will now undertake future repairs and honour existing orders and warranties, won’t they? Early news is less than encouraging. The much vaunted ‘next day shipping’ seems to be taking more like four days than one to arrive, and I have stories of incomplete shipments, B stock and broken goods being received. And can MSP cope with the tidal wave of faulty returns (for the next four years, remember) let alone a doubling of orders for their empty looking warehouse? And what about the DV 30 day money back guarantee? Word is circulating of unhappy customers being offered credit notes or alternative goods in place of their money back, as was loudly promised when they bought their gear. I’d be interested to know if this is true.

Of course, these may just be isolated incidents, but one of the main reasons for this post is to provide a forum for you, the Great British Public, to share you experiences, opinions, concerns and news with others. I’m going to sit back for a couple of weeks before posting an update, so for now this forum is all yours…


  1. Hey Mark,

    Just wanted to say as a member of the public who's bought from Thomann and DV over the years that I've read all your posts on this blogging site and found them all to be very informative.

    Over the past few years, I've bought very little new gear, opting for some of the bargains that can be had secondhand from Ebay. When I have bought new gear, the extended warranties offered by Thomann (3 years) and DV (4 years) were the sole reason for buying from that retailer, sometimes even if they were a few quid more.

    Your insights as to current business practices are interesting. As a trained musician, one realises very early on after leaving further education, that to survive one needs more than one string to ones bow. As a lifelong Labour supporter I always thought a fair and just taxation system was a moral obligation for any citizen living in a 'first world' country. The antics of Tony Blair et al in the first decade of this new century changed that outlook forever and I applaud anybody who manages their finances in such a way that their taxation liability to support illegal occupations of foreign countries, commit crimes against humanity and generally diminish the citizen's voice in society, as a good thing, not a bad thing.
    If anyone reading this wonders how someone gets from a discussion about a company winding up to Iraq invasions, it's because it's all the same thing really....just on a different scale. It's about slight of hand, of presenting something as one thing when really it's the total antithesis of what is claimed.

    I read your profile with interest. Like I said, my main educational interest since leaving school has been within music. I now teach, perform and write but only in the last ten years have I become interested in history as a way of knowing where we've been in the past, where we currently are and where we may be in the future. The internet has naturally enabled much of what has been kept hidden from people in the past, to surface and be evaluated. After your blogs, I feel more informed and better able to decide where next to spend my hard-earned dosh.

  2. A quick update for those wondering how the 'new' DV is settling down...
    Check their facebook page...

    It seems thier customer service, delivery and support are not madly pleasing their customers.

  3. Yesterday a customer bought a faulty Focal monitor in for repair.
    Having diagnosed a faulty amp, the client asked for it to be repaired under warranty. However, it transpired that he'd bought it from Digital Village, so we referred him to them.
    This morning we recived the following email...

    Hi Steve

    I just spoke to DV. Because of their current business situation they're unable to commit to a warranty policy right now. I'm pushing them to offer me a solution which I suspect will involve me covering the repair costs and getting a credit note, or something.

    Please sit tight for now, I'll update you tomorrow.


    So, the 'four year warranty' appears to have lasted less than two weeks.

    Surprise surprise...

  4. It looks like the anticipated supply and shipping nightmare is becoming a reality.
    The Internet is littered with complaints, such as the one below (on Trustpilot)

    .In a very competitive market, DV247 consistently offer excellent value - that cannot be denied. I've purchased a lot of gear from both DV247 and other well-known music outlets (GAK, Guitar-Guitar, Andertons, Dolphin etc), and what usually drives my decision to purchase from one of them is price, or the combination of price plus delivery.

    The other major determining factor is, of course, whether they have the item in stock or not.

    For me, an item listed as "In Stock" is exactly that - it's either in the stock room of the outlet I'm ordering from, or at the very least in a local warehouse or distribution centre.

    I've ordered two items recently from DV247, both of which were listed as "In Stock" (they even inform you of how many of the items they have in stock), and as such, would have expected them to be processed into their distribution system (they've used UPS for these items) either on the day I ordered, or on the very next working day at least.

    However, it appears that this is not the case at all. My first item took two clear days to be processed, and when the UPS Tracking Details did finally appear, it became apparent that it was in fact being dispatched to the UK from Germany. To my way of thinking, that's not what I'd call "In Stock" as advertised on DV247's website.

    I ordered the second item from them late on the evening of June 14th (2013). I researched through all the stores I regularly do business with, performing all the usual price checks, as well as making certain the item was listed as "In Stock". Even ignoring Saturday 15th (and obviously Sunday 16th), I would have expected that my item would be processed and dispatched on Monday 17th (in fact Guitar-Guitar and Andertons both made clear that this would be the case, and they even guaranteed delivery to me on Tuesday 18th (today).

    However, as it stands now, my item from DV247 has not even been marked as dispatched, and no Tracking Information is available as yet from UPS.

    I've just spoken to DV247 Customer Services to enquire as to when my item is likely to arrive, and it was explained to me that, yet again, my item is being shipped to the UK from their warehouse in Germany, and is likely to arrive "in the next two or three days".

    I'm sorry, but to my way of thinking, that is stretching the use of the term "In Stock" just a little too far.

    For all they seemed to know, my item might not even arrive tomorrow (Wed 19th). The irony being, that considering I ordered my "In Stock" item (at least) 2 working days ago, I could actually order the exact same item this very minute (1pm Tues 18th) and have its delivery tomorrow guaranteed by one of DV247's competitors - Guitar-Guitar.

    I honestly believe that in future, DV247 should consider making their processing procedure, and the likely times of delivery from Germany, much clearer to prospective buyers.

    I've had some real bargains from DV247 in the past, but sadly, I believe this is likely to be the last item I will ever purchase from them.