A great business ruined by personal issues and irresponsible and dishonest management.
Stan came to me wanting to sort out his business website, Astral Stone, and to do SEO for him. As the website was offline at the time (and again now) I had to use the Web Archive to recover it.
The website was built with WordPress using the supplied Twenty Seventeen theme. The intention was to make the design more substantial once more images of Astral Stone’s work turned up. The promised images never arrived despite met setting up a Dropbox folder to upload them to. Instead I was promised “a USB drive in the mail” which would have been more of a hassle for the client. The drive never turned up either and I gave up seeking new content.
The only contact I got was a call from the receptionist, I believe, requesting instructions for redoing the top banner of the front page. But why bother changing something so minor when the content was out of date? I could never understand why this minor change was needed and why they needed to do it. Maybe to assert ownership? The psychology behind some clients!
Unlike many of Astral Stone’s suppliers I was paid for hosting, domain and basic set up, but I had to disconnect the email service which prompted a quick payment. I was fortunate to get paid as Astral Stone has huge debts including monies owed to solicitors and the electricity supplier (who charge more than 45c per kW/hour) and more than $30k to a stone supplier.
There was a Facebook page as well and once when prompted by Facebook to update the page to keep it fresh I changed the cover image to a nice one with white roses. This in turn prompted responses from some disgruntled clients and one ignored employee.
They were asking if Astral Stone was going again (I was never informed of it’s closure) and it was then that I found out some of the dishonest and disrespectful behaviour of the owner, especially regarding vulnerable clients who have lost a loved one.
I was informed that he was taking substantial deposits and personal memorabilia from clients without completing any work or returning their precious irreplaceable items.
Someone on the Facebook page wrote that Stan was hit hard by his divorce and turned to drugs to cope; and as a consequence the business was abused and abandoned. Although it’s understandable why he behaved the way he did, I don’t believe that Stan’s personal problems justifies him taking from clients what is not his.
It was until after some time after finding out about Astral Stone’s demise that I did a search for the business and I found this very professionally made video by Scorch iProspect back in August 2012. The client was on the right track to have a great business but personal issues got in the way and caused it to fail.
From an article on the Scorch iPospect website:
We were asked to produce a touching video for Astral Stone. The aim of the video was to demonstrate the care and attention when producing a memorial for a loved one.
Originally we produced a script alongside a story board to deliver the concept and emotion that we wanted to convey. The original script and concept read:
“It does matter how the memorials are made, what material we use right down to the shade of colour in the font.
It is important to us to get it right because a memorial is such an important finishing touch for the resting place of your loved one.
It’s also important that we pay good attention to your needs and your requests, as no two memorials are the same. To us, a memorial is a final statement to world about who a person was, and the way they want to be remembered.
It matters so much that we use every tool available to us to make sure we get it right. We even use Computer Generated designs so that we can help you visualise what the final product will look like.
It matters to us because we understand how much it matters to you.
AstralStone. Because it matters to you.”
We decided to film the story with less emphasis on the person, but rather more as a journey of the headstone itself and the effort & care it undergoes. To create the effect of care and effort we wanted to have lots of space in the shots so we emptied out the warehouse and tried to show as few people as possible working on the job. By starting the video job later in the afternoon and finishing on a “lights-out” shot, we have created the illusion that the work took a very long time.
By the time we had finished the first cut, we collectively agreed that the video conveyed the message so well that it was no-longer required to record the voice-over script. A few edits later and here we find the finished product.
From what looked like a promising new client I learnt how bad things can get for businesses and especially customers when a business turns bad and doesn’t return funds and property that is not theirs. I got off very lightly having lost no money or resources. I really feel for the businesses and individual clients who were burnt by Astral Stone. I hope that their future dealings are much better.
The website is now offline, however an old copy can be viewed at http://web.archive.org/web/20180224043325/http://astralstone.com.au/