Everything must go: Dick Smith customer details auctioned off

If you ever signed up to a Dick Smith newsletter or handed over personal information when buying from their online store, your details may soon be sold off to the highest bidder, as part of Dick Smith's fire sale liquidation.

Claire Reilly
Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
Expertise Space, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech Culture Credentials Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
2 min read
Dick Smith Electronics

After Dick Smith collapsed last month, the receivers have been looking to sell off anything and everything to pay the company's debts. But a small newspaper ad has now revealed that the retailer's customer database is also up for grabs.

Dick Smith Holdings went into receivership at the start of this year, leaving customers short-changed over gift cards that were no longer being honoured, and putting the futures of almost 3,000 employees in doubt.

After attempting to find an interested buyer to keep the business afloat, receivers Ferrier Hodgson announced in late February there was no white knight on the horizon and that the Dick Smith would have to be closed for good. The announcement was grim news for roughly 3,000 staff working in Dick Smith's 363 stores across Australia and New Zealand, who were told their stores would be shuttered by late April.

As part of the closure process, Ferrier Hodgson announced a fire sale to clear excess stock, fixtures and essentially anything that wasn't bolted down, all in order to raise money for creditors.

Now, it seems, there's more up for grabs.

The receivers placed an advertisement in a New Zealand newspaper on Wednesday, seeking urgent expressions of interest for Dick Smith's digital business, including its brands and trademarks, and website and domain names.

Among the deals on offer? Dick Smith's entire customer database.


Receivers trying to wrap up the Dick Smith business have put the retailer's customer database up for sale.

Screenshot by Claire Reilly/CNET

Interested buyers have until Friday to make an offer, though whether a third party would swoop in now to pick up the online business remains to be seen, especially when no buyers were eager to pick up the struggling retail group in the early months of this year.

But according to Electronic Frontiers Australia, a comprehensive list of customer details represents a different prize altogether.

"From a marketing point of view it would be valuable," said EFA executive officer, Jon Lawrence, of the customer database. "Its value is as a result of the fact that this is a group of people who have previously engaged with an electronics store so they are deemed likely to probably engage again. A business in a similar line to Dick Smith would find this more valuable than just a random collection of names."

For its part, Ferrier Hodgson said it was investigating the sale of various assets, but the receivers were "aware of their obligations" under Australian and New Zealand privacy laws.

"While a potential sale may include customer information (amongst other things), the form and substance of any such sale that may take place is yet to be determined," Ferrier Hodgson said in a statement to CNET.

"Any sale which may take place in the future would not be in breach of those obligations [relating to the use and disclosure of personal information.]

"The receivers will communicate with all customers on the database ahead of any sale, and customers will be provided with an election in relation to their personal information being included in any sale."