Consumers report problems with repairs

This announcement is for: 
Business / companyConsumer

The risks of handing over goods for repair or alteration have been highlighted with Consumer Protection receiving a recent spike in complaints.

In the past 12 months, 32 consumers have lodged formal complaints related to issues when leaving items for repair or alteration with the majority of the complaints being received in the past six months. Problems reported include items being damaged during repair/alteration or lost as a result of negligence, theft or fire.

Mobile phones, tablets, computers and computer accessories make up 24 of the complaints with other items being watches, jewellery, a sewing machine, bicycle and household appliances.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said, while many of the consumers had received replacement items as a remedy, a small number of consumers were forced to take the matter to Court.

“Circumstances may vary so each complaint has to be assessed on a case by case basis,” Ms Driscoll said.

“A consumer should be able to make a reasonable assumption that a trader who holds products in trust for repair or alteration has appropriate insurance to cover items of value in their possession.

“To that end, the consumer should ask whether or not the trader has insurance coverage and ask the trader to make a claim on their insurance to replace or repair any lost or damaged items.

“Some household insurance policies provide protection for loss of high value items such as jewellery, but usually in limited circumstances that don’t often extend to losses when in the possession of repairers.

“Consumers who have valuables or heirlooms should check with their insurer if they are handing a valuable item over for repair.  Checking a policy after the event is often too late.

“If a consumer believes the trader is liable for loss or damage, then they should try to negotiate an acceptable resolution direct with the trader in the first instance.  It may be preferable to put the complaint in writing asking for a resolution, such as a replacement or payment for the full value of the item, giving the trader 14 days to respond.

“If a satisfactory outcome is not forthcoming then the consumer can contact us at Consumer Protection and, in certain circumstances, we can seek to conciliate the matter.

“In some instances where the trader refuses to compensate the customer and it can be shown that the trader has caused the loss or damage through their negligence a claim can be pursued in the Magistrates Court.”

Some simple tips to prevent problems arising:

  • Take photographs of the item before handing it over so that there is an accurate record of the description and proof of its condition.  This makes it easier to negotiate with a trader when the condition of the item is in dispute
  • Consider obtaining an independent certificate of valuation for jewellery beforehand
  • Obtain a receipt from the trader acknowledging that they have taken possession of the item and, if needed, append a copy of any photographs or valuations to further prove what has been handed over and in what condition
  • Get a detailed quote outlining what the repairer is proposing to do

Enquiries about this issue can be made by emailing Consumer Protection at consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54.

END OF RELEASE

Media Contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
27 Nov 2014

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