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Epilepsy Action Australia left in the lurch by Dick Smith's demise

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Epilepsy Action Australia is grappling with a $200,000 funding black hole after Dick Smith signed off on a major sponsorship deal for its biggest annual fund raising event less than three weeks before the administrators were called in.

The charity's chief executive Carol Ireland said Dick Smith signed off on deal on December 17 and gave Epilepsy Action Australia assurances it could proceed with printing all the material for its Purple Day fund raising activities, which are scheduled to role out from next week to Purple Day on March 26.

Ms Ireland said it had already printed all the Purple Day material featuring Dick Smith as the major sponsor but it was now facing a situation where it had no prizes for its major raffles, which were to be Dick Smith gift vouchers or distribution network for its Purple Day merchandise.

"This is our major fundraising for the year and Dick Smith had come to an agreement with us, which they approved on the 17th of December, just before Christmas," Ms Ireland said.

"We have all our raffle material, the tickets that are supposed to go out from next week and they've got Dick Smith as the national sponsor."

Ms Ireland said the charity could not afford to reprint this material but if it didn't launch the raffle next week, the entire annual fund raising program was at risk.


"I  understand we are a small piece in a very big problem but it could be devastating to us because we count on this money coming in," Ms Ireland said.

"We are in trouble, we have no prizes, the wrong materials and no distribution partner."

Dick Smith agreed to provide $50,000 cash sponsorship as well as three $1000 gift vouchers as raffle prizes and the stores were carrying the full range of Purple Day merchandise, which Epilepsy Action Australia expected to raise as much as $50,000 from.

Epilepsy Action Australia has made many attempts to contact Dick Smith as well as its administrators and receivers but it has not had any response apart from an email acknowledging its calls and emails , forcing Ms Ireland to appeal for a "national retailer with a heart of gold" to come in and take on Dick Smith's  financial commitment.

Ms Ireland did not feel like she was mislead by Dick Smith but she said sought assurances from them late last year after the share price plunged and impressed on the retailer how important its support was for the charity.

"I suspect the people we were dealing with did not have any idea what was in front of them," Ms Ireland said.

We are in trouble, we have no prizes, the wrong materials and no distribution partner

Carol Ireland

To add to the pain, Epilepsy Action Australia opted to strike an exclusive distribution deal with Dick Smith for its merchandise this year unlike 2014, when it worked with Telstra and United Finance as well as Dick Smith to sell its fund raising products.

And publicity for the fund raising campaign was going to be included in Dick Smith's national catalogue as well as through its social media channels.

Dick Smith's bankers NAB and HSBC forced the retailer into receivership on Tuesday after it went into voluntary administration following two profit downgrades and a shock $60 million inventory write-off in November and a pre Christmas clearance sale.

The future of the business is uncertain with analysts suggesting a buyer could pick up the best performing stores but there are concerns the operation has major structural challenges ranging from the store sizes and range to its retail brand.

Dick Smith receiver Ferrier Hodgson has been contacted for comment.