$10,000 fine for not so handy handyman (Walter Vermeulen / Ratio Design)

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Taking substantial deposits from two consumers and then not starting or finishing the jobs has cost a Kingsley handyman $10,000 in fines after he pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court on 22 November 2019.

Walter Steven Vermeulen, trading as Ratio Design, was fined $8,000 on one charge and $2,000 on a second charge of accepting payment for goods and services but failing to supply them in breach of the Australian Consumer Law. He was also ordered to pay legal costs of $977.20.

The first charge related to Mr Vermeulen accepting deposit payments in March 2018 totalling $9,200 from a Mt Lawley consumer to supply and install new kitchen cupboards for a total quoted cost of $22,897. He performed some work on two occasions but then failed to return to the home to complete the work. The consumer contracted another tradesperson to complete the job.

The second charge related to Mr Vermeulen accepting a deposit payment of $1,150 in September 2018 from a Morley consumer to construct and install a home entertainment unit for a total quoted cost of $1,720. He failed to supply or install the entertainment unit and has not refunded the deposit.

Magistrate Watt said it was a consumer’s right to rely on tradespeople as well as other businesses to honour their agreements and supply goods and services where payments are made up-front.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said it’s risky for consumers to pay such large deposits.

“We recommend no more than ten percent of the total cost for a deposit in most circumstances and only pay the balance when the work is completed to your satisfaction,” Mr Hillyard said.

“For larger jobs, we recommend that consumers make progress payments as stages of the job are completed and materials have been delivered.

“Apart from the financial loss that consumer’s suffer when tradies don’t deliver on their promises, there are also losses in terms of time, stress and inconvenience, especially if the result is a partially completed renovation.”

More information on dealing with tradies is available on the Consumer Protection website where online complaints can be lodged. Enquiries can be made by email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54.


Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / alan.hynd@dmirs.wa.gov.au 

Consumer Protection
Media release
29 Nov 2019

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