Customers of Mr Heron’s “ByPost” iPhone app claimed they have not received goods they have paid for or refunds have bounced in their bank accounts - and have reported the firm to Citizens Advice and Trading Standards.
Meanwhile, the Registrar of Companies has lodged an “application for striking off” for the firm run by Bridge of Allan-based serial entrepreneur Mr Heron, under section 1000 of the Companies Act, which allows a firm to be shut down if the authorities have “reasonable grounds” to believe that “no business is being carried on”. However, this was suspended in July, when a formal objection to the action was raised.
Some customers who have bought credits for ByPost, which converts electronic messages into picture postcards and other conventional post items, says that postcards have been sent late or not at all, while others say promised refunds have not materialised. Many claimed they had been convinced to buy credits in bulk at a discount, which they are now unable to use.
ByPost last year launched a Kickstarter campaign to send the first postcard from space, raising £5,049 from 778 backers - including three people who pledged £250 or more - but the project has failed to materialise, with investors recently demanding updates on the Kickstarter webpage.
The ByPost website claims it has sent a total of 506,704 postcards to users.
Customer Sarah Goldson said she had ordered four cards two months ago, as well as £30 worth of credits. The cards have never been sent.
“For a time it worked brilliantly,” she said. “Initially, I bought a few postcards and I was delighted with them, so then I bought a lot of credits in a job lot. It was after that they stopped sending.
“I had to ask the app to make sure the cards were not sent as one was to a friend who has since been diagnosed with cancer and it would not be very tactful to send the card I had ordered, which said ‘Hope you are well’, she said. “It still says ‘pending’ so I don’t know if it will go, which would be awful.”
In an email to Ms Goldson last month, Mr Heron, who has a string of companies behind him including ethical fashion brand Green Baby and investments in rare wine and mineral exploration, apologised and promised to refund her her money.
However, shortly after Ms Goldson saw the payment arrive in her PayPal account, she found it had “bounced” and the money disappeared. Another customer, Clive Daniels, wrote on the company’s Facebook page: “Despite Luke Heron, ByPost CEO’s, numerous promises of improved service and prompt delivery of cards, still not a single card received. Now escalating issue to Trading Standards as I type.”
Mr Heron told The Scotsman that he expected to leave the company as a result of the problems.
He said: “The service has been very very poor of late. Suffice to say that a number of postcard deliveries have not been as prompt as they have historically been.
“It has already taken longer to put right than we envisaged, further compounding the disappointing experience that users have encountered. We are working hard to resolve the issue and once resolved we will naturally work hard to restore the trust of the users that we have let down.”
He added: “As for the future viability of ByPost; it has considerably more of a future than I do within it. The company is a democratised organisation that is controlled by both investor shareholders and loan note charge holders and acts in their interests. Whilst the issues of the recent past have cast a shadow over what has always been a highly innovative company - ByPost will get on top of these issues, will address user concerns and resume its upwards growth curve, but I fear it is inevitable that ByPost will ultimately look to replace me as its chief.”