MicroDigital sought by bailiffsBy Chris Williams. Published: 11th Jul 2005, 15:17:27 | Permalink | Printable
Not the best time to play hide and seek [Updated]The exact whereabouts of MicroDigital remains a mystery after bailiffs told a county court that the company had ceased trading from its West Yorkshire offices. A MicroDigital customer obtained a warrant from Southampton County Court after successfully taking the hardware manufacturer to court in February to forcibly obtain a refund on a broken Omega computer.
When bailiffs arrived at MicroDigital's doorstop on Titus Street in mid-June, they reportedly found no sellable goods at that location. Further local enquiries made by the bailiffs failed to reveal any further information on the whereabouts of MicroDigital.
In November 2000, the customer says he, like so many other users at the time, put down a £250 deposit for an Omega, which was promised to be ready by Christmas that year. In September 2002, the Omega was still unreleased although the customer in question received a letter saying the computer was being manufactured. Six months later, MicroDigital requested full payment for the machine and in April that year, cashed a cheque for £1297 from the customer. In February 2004, the Omega still hadn't arrived, despite one reseller declaring he had cleared his backlog of Omega orders. After spending weeks chasing up MicroDigital over the telephone, the customer's Omega finally arrived in Cheltenham in March, although the customer had since moved to Southampton and had to travel back to Cheltenham to pick it up.
He told us: "On lifting the computer out of the box I could hear something moving around inside. Closer examination showed that the bottom of the front faceplate was unsecured and swung out when the computer was moved. Subsequently, it was found that most of the supporting pins for the front faceplate were snapped off.
"Because of the damage I didn't try the computer out to see if it worked, but it wouldn't have switched on anyway because the power lead wasnít connected to the 'on' button on the faceplate. This lead had a barbed connector which should have secured it in a grille in the metal case, level with and opposite the 'on' button."
He added: "The fact that it was hanging loose suggests it was never properly connected up. Had it been torn out by an impact the plastic barb would presumably have broken.
"In addition to the damage, compared to the original specifications, this computer was lacking in several features and had been delivered with an external modem, instead of the internal modem it was advertised as having."
After days of phone calls, MicroDigital eventually agreed to pick up the damaged computer and fix it. The machine was finally collected at the end of March, however it had not been returned by the end of April, prompting the customer to demand a refund. Legal action followed, and after losing an appeal, MicroDigital were instructed to refund the cost of the Omega plus legal costs and interest to the customer. The bailiffs were drafted in when the company failed to pay back the money owed by the beginning of March 2005.
According to Companies House, MicroDigital are still trading at Titus Street. One Omega reseller said last week that he had not been informed of the legal battle and was oblivious to the bailiff's findings. Another reseller in Europe confirmed with us also that the affair was news to him, claiming that they received an email last week from MicroDigital saying development was continuing. Trading Standards officers were also said to have found it difficult to contact the Omega manufacturer.
The Omega computer was billed as a StrongARM powered computer that ran RISC OS 4 and would, we were told, at some point support an XScale second processor. Despite emerging from a lot of hype in late 2000, it eventually started shipping by around July 2003, although lacked several advertised features. MicroDigital could not be reached for comment.
Update at 15:56 19/7/2005
According to Julian Zimmerle, a MicroDigital support forum administrator, the microdigital.biz and microdigital.info websites are both up and running, despite the disappearance of microdigital.co.uk. Julian says the .biz and .info sites are owned by MicroDigital and should be considered official. Meanwhile, we've learnt that the bailiffs found MD's offices to be "empty" and assumed that they had ceased trading. Investigations continue.
Let us know if you have any further information
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