By Kim Vinnell
Dressing up is meant to be a fun affair, but for dozens of Kiwi families even just the attempt has left them out of pocket and angry.
An online store known as The Costume Shop is being called to account by the Commerce Commission after pocketing cash but failing to part with the goods.
Anahera is three years old and just a little bit obsessed. She likes dressing up and dressing others.
So when she got the call-up for a princess-themed birthday party, her mum Antonia decided to let her hair down.
"I came across this website called thecostumeshop.co.nz and it looked quite good. It's a New Zealand website."
One Rapunzel costume was bought and paid for, but two weeks and several emails later there was still nothing.
The website listed no phone number, no address and a strict no pick-up policy.
It turns out the Commerce Commission is investigating The Costume Shop, having received 35 complaints of late deliveries or complete no-shows.
Story wanted to track down the woman who owns and operates this business, Huntly woman Angela Floyed. We couldn't get hold of her, so we went to her house.
There was no answer there, so it was on to one of the last-listed company addresses – nothing there either.
As the trail went dead, the complaints continued to surface. This time it was for Halloween.
"We ordered Charlie's Smurfette costume and a week later we didn't receive it," says Michele Duncan. "It was supposed to come within three to five days.
"We emailed her and she didn't reply and we tried a couple of times. So I looked online and there were a lot of comments about how this company has been mucking everyone around."
Those comments, which are mostly complaints, date back to June last year, with stories of orders never filled and customers sometimes hundreds of dollars out of pocket.
Then, as the furore grew louder, there was finally a response from the mysterious Ms Floyed.
She said via email her website is not fraudulent and unfortunately, due to circumstances outside of her control, some orders were about two weeks late, but everybody has received either a refund or their product.
The Costume Shop has now contacted at least some of the disgruntled customers to say orders have finally been dispatched. But for Antonia it's too late.