Consumer guarantees on services
On this page:
- What services are covered?
- Which services are not covered?
- What consumer guarantees apply to services?
- Due care and skill
- Fit for a particular purpose
- Reasonable time, if no time set
Services that you provide in the course of your business or professional activity, including not-for-profit services, that:
- cost up to $40,000 (or any other amount set by the Australian Consumer Law in future), regardless of purpose or use;
- cost more than $40,000, and are normally acquired for personal, domestic or household purposes, for example, car repairs or legal services.
- Services bought before 1 January 2011. These are covered by statutory implied conditions and warranties under the Trade Practices Act 1974 and state and territory legislation in force before 1 January 2011.
- Services costing more than $40,000, which are for commercial use - for example, installation of farm irrigation systems or factory machinery repairs.
- Transportation or storage of goods for the consumer’s business, trade, profession or occupation.
- Insurance contracts.
As a supplier, you guarantee to provide services:
- with due care and skill;
- which are fit for any specified purpose; and
- within a reasonable time, when no time is set.
This means you must:
- use an acceptable level of skill or technical knowledge when providing the services; and
- take all necessary care to avoid loss or damage when providing the services.
A consumer hires a painter to paint her house. Before starting the job, the painter does not remove all of the old, flaking paint. Six months later, the new paint starts to flake. The painter has not met the ‘due care and skill’ guarantee, as he did not use a level of skill that would be expected of a reasonable painter. While painting the consumer’s house, the painter knocks over a can of paint, which spills over her newly paved driveway. The painter has not met the guarantee and must fix the damage.
Services must achieve the consumer’s stated purpose
You guarantee your services will be reasonably fit for any purpose specified by the consumer and that any products resulting from the services are also fit for that purpose.
A consumer asks a carpenter to build a carport to cover his 4WD vehicle, which is two metres wide. If the carpenter builds a 1.8m-wide carport that does not cover the car, the carpenter will not have met the ‘fit for purpose’ guarantee.
Services must be of sufficient quality to achieve desired results
As a supplier, you guarantee that services, and any resulting products, are of a standard expected to achieve the results that the consumer told you they wanted.
A consumer tells her eye surgeon that she wants to be able to drive without glasses. She is assessed as suitable for laser surgery and undergoes the procedure. If her vision does not meet the standard for driving without glasses, the surgeon will not have met the ‘fit for purpose’ guarantee.
When the consumer does not rely on you when choosing the services
This guarantee will not protect the consumer if they did not rely, or it was unreasonable for them to rely, on your skill or judgment when agreeing to particular services.
For example, it may not be reasonable for a consumer to rely on a receptionist in a large service company for advice about which service is suitable.
Are there any industries where this guarantee does not apply?
This guarantee does not apply to professional services provided by a qualified architect or engineer (continuing an exemption granted in previous laws).
However, an architect or engineer who provides a service outside their area of professional expertise - for example, building services - must still meet the guarantee.
Architects or engineers must provide services with due care and skill.
A contract or agreement for the supply of services usually states when the services will be provided and the date they will be completed.
If not, you automatically guarantee to supply the service within a reasonable time.
What is ’reasonable’ will depend on the nature of the services. For example, the time needed to build a house will be longer than the time required to lop a tree.