Police contacted after Timaru company fails to return placenta, human ashes
Police have been contacted over claims a Timaru business has failed to return placenta, umbilical cords, and human ashes that were supposed to be turned into precious keepsakes.
Both police and internet watchdog Netsafe have confirmed they had been contacted about web-based Timaru company Baby Tree Placenta Services.
Dozens of people who sent placenta and other items to the company say they never received their products.
Several also allege owner Jo Jackson ignored repeated messages, lied about sending products and promised refunds that have yet to eventuate.
Jackson did not return requests for comment on Wednesday. She had not lived at the address given on her company's Facebook page for about nine months, the current occupier of the Timaru property said.
But in a post on the company's Facebook page, Jackson acknowledged the "nasty messages" she had been receiving.
"As I have explained, I was awaiting supplies from overseas which takes quite awhile, I have sent photos of completed jewellery to some of you, which without supplies I cannot send yet," she posted.
"Yes I haven't replied to these latest messages, what more can I say except once I have the supplies they will be posted. I have had a lot of very very stressed and sad personal things going on in my own life lately to focus on and have not had a lot of time for Facebook, I have been extremely stressed out."
She would have all orders posted this week, she said.
Timaru woman Melissa Breen said she placed an order for her children's umbilical cords to be made into pendants 18 months ago.
She sent the umbilical cords to the company's address but had yet to receive the pendants, or the cords.
"I started messaging her and got no reply," Breen said. She had also visited Jackson's address three times, but she never appeared to be home, she said.
"It's pretty nasty."
Another woman, who asked not to be named, on Wednesday said she was waiting for her grandfather's ashes to be returned.
She contacted Jackson to arrange getting the ashes turned into jewellery beads more than a month ago, she said.
She paid the money and waited for the items to arrive. After repeated attempts to contact Jackson, she was still waiting, she said.
"I hadn't been sleeping with all the worry of what she had done with my grandfather's ashes, whether they were mixed up in someone else's order or if someone else's items had been mixed into mine, or if his ashes had simply ended up in the trash.
"It still haunts me to be honest and I dread telling my family."
Amy Hawthorn, of Morrinsville, said she sent Jackson samples of her breast milk and her baby's hair, to be made into a pendant, in August.
After repeated messages, Jackson told her she had posted the pendant in September. When it failed to arrive, she asked for a tracking number.
Jackson did not respond to messages, Hawthorn said.
Three weeks ago she asked for a refund, which she said Jackson agreed to. She has yet to receive it, she said.
"What she's doing is freaking horrible."
Hawthorn said she had contacted police in Morrinsville. A police spokeswoman confirmed "enquiries are ongoing".
Hawthorn had started a Facebook group for women who had similar experiences with the company. It had more than 20 members, she said.
Other women spoken to by Fairfax described similar experiences with Baby Tree Placenta Services.
They ordered products, paid the money, and then Jackson cut off contact. Some had spent up to $200 on the company's products.
Several women said they were planning to contact police within the next few days.
One of those was Mid Canterbury woman Eden Kirk-Williams. After months of waiting for the placenta capsules she had ordered, she said she had to visit Jackson's house unannounced to retrieve her placenta.
Jackson had agreed to give her a half-refund, she said. She has yet to receive it.
A Netsafe spokeswoman confirmed Netsafe was aware of the company's Facebook page, but could not provide any more information for privacy reasons.