The phone call from the Ministry of Social Development
Yesterday I got a phone call from the Ministry of Social Development. I was asked a series of questions about my understanding of the conditions relating to the application for the wage subsidy. I thought "this is nice that they are calling everyone up to see if they understand". The manner of the person calling was very professional and friendly. Then the punchline. I was told this was an audit as someone had made an anonymous complaint about Epic applying for the wage subsidy. It was based on the fact that we sold the single canceled container of Chinese labelled Hop Zombie online and through the tap room, where the export had been canceled just a couple of days before we loaded the container. The allegation was that we were still trading/got money for the canceled export therefore we should not be entitled to the wage subsidy.
The condition of being able to apply is if you have or will experience a decrease in sales by 30% a month between January and June. If the accuser had known this and they considered the total number of export containers for China cancelled, plus the closure of all bars, restaurants and liquor stores they may understand that our sales decrease is significantly more than 30%. This assistance is so we can retain our employees through this difficult time.
As well as the MSD complaint we have also experienced our Facebook advertising account being shut down due to a complaint. A complaint relating to a non-compliance of Facebooks Advertising Policies. This complaint was for an ad that was running letting people know that we were open and able to sell our beer online with contactless delivery. The ad was factually correct, the complaint wasn't and now that Facebook has minimal staff available to review complaints it will be several weeks before they can review.
After discussing this with the Ministry of Social Development they have suggested that we lodge a complaint with the Police. They said it looks like someone is targeting your company, and even though the Police are unlikely to follow up on these two events, they will the next time something else happens. It is very disappointing someone is doing this to your company during such difficult times.
I personally feel a great privilege to still be able to sell our beer even at a very restricted level. But I feel saddened that someone would be vindictive enough to want to put in jeopardy the viability of our business that is still directly supporting six New Zealand families, as well as many other families indirectly. Collectively we are all experiencing great pain which is likely to continue on for the foreseeable future. Please be kind to each other. Help people out where you can. We are all in this together. Stay safe.
Update - April 16
Wow, just wow. I can't believe the love and support from everyone. I am so grateful for everyones likes, and comments, and suggestions. I really appreciate all the offers of help, the posts on personal pages to get the word out about the fact you can actually buy Epic online. The most overwhelming and powerful gesture has been all the people that have showed support with going to the website and buying some beer. Thank you all so much.
One point to clarify is that the Ministry of Social Development are all good with Epic. After our chat they have no issues with us applying for the wage subsidy as we met the criteria. They wished me the best of luck through these difficult and challenging times.
Originally posted on my personal Facebook page. Comments are a nice read, so many lovely supportive people. Cheers Luke