Discount chain The Warehouse is being accused of "bait trading" after a customer complained a sofa he bought online was not in stock.

Samuel Gwynnhas blasted the discount chain on its Facebook page after he bought a $300 three-seater sofa over the internet, had money debited from his account only to have the order cancelled due to "unforeseen circumstances".

"Shame on the warehouse online store!!! purchased 'Living & Co Liberty Sofa 3 Seater Grey' which was offered on red alert deals website.... they happy took my money straight away yet apparently had to cancel my order for "unforeseen circumstances" .... and now I'm without my money for 5 days while a refund is processed," he posted.

Shame on the warehouse online store!!! purchased 'Living & Co Liberty Sofa 3 Seater Grey' which was offered on red...

Posted by Samuel Gwynn on Sunday, April 10, 2016

He claimed it was not fair trading and asked the company to have stock before advertising.


Other customers on the Facebook page posted this was not an isolated incident, complaining that they had also been left temporarily out of pocket after buying goods on line from the company that were not in stock.

Posted Janet Reynolds: "This has happened to me more than twice, with completely different excuses each time - ridiculous!"

Bait trading is when goods and services are advertised but cannot be supplied in order to lure people into the shop. It is in breach of consumer law.

After making the initial complaint Mr Gwynn said the company had contacted him and he would be receiving his bargain sofa after all.

Warehouse spokeswoman Julia Morton said the situation was due to a process error in the company's Red Alert website.

She said it was a very different situation to bait advertising.

The red alert website offers one day specials different to those advertised on The Warehouse website and in physical stores.

"We were in touch with Mr Gwynn yesterday morning, we apologised for the mistake and we've worked to find him a new sofa for the same price he originally paid," she said.

She said refunds were processed on the same day that the company was notified by the customer or made a decision to refund but the electronic banking process could take up to five working days.