Auction site Wheedle closes

AIMEE GULLIVER
Last updated 20:47 11/07/2014

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Online auction site Wheedle is closing, less than two years after it was set up to take on Trade Me. 

The site’s sole funder, Mainfreight co-founder and rich-lister Neil Graham, decided against further investment in the company, he said in a message to Wheedle members tonight.

“Our aim was to create a commercially successful site where people could buy and sell online without costing users an arm and a leg. 

“More than 80,000 members backed us and we’re very proud of that achievement.”

Graham was “sad to see it go”, but had taken the idea as far as it could go. 

Ongoing health issues had also contributed to his decision, he said. 

Graham underwent brain surgery and had to learn to walk again after surgery on his spine successfully removed a benign tumour in late 2011. 

All auctions on the site would run their course, and all membership fees would be refunded in full, Graham said. 

He declined to comment further, and said he had to look after his staff before he would speak to media. 

Wheedle staff today had received paid notice and were assisting in the orderly wind up of the company, Graham’s announcement to Wheedle members said. 

Set up as an alternative to Trade Me, Graham said he continued to believe New Zealanders should have a choice when it came to online trading, and listing fees should be “fair and reasonable”. 

Launched in October 2012, the site aimed to undercut Trade Me by charging a flat-rate $1 fee on items that sold for more than $20. 

Almost immediately after its launch, Wheedle was shut down when flaws in its security systems were exposed, and members were able to change the reserve price of other people’s auctions. It re-launched in April 2013.

Graham had invested millions into the venture, and faced “doubters from the start, but we’ve given it our best shot,” he said.


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