Bunbury tradie to pay more than $10,000 in fines, costs and compensation (Blake Ball / Balls Walls Constuction)
A Dalyellup tradie who took deposits from consumers but did nothing or very little in return has been fined and ordered to pay compensation by the Bunbury Magistrates Court.
Blake Ball, trading as Balls Walls Constuction(sic), was fined $5,000 on 21 May 2018 after pleading guilty to three charges under the Australian Consumer Law for wrongly accepting payment from two consumers who had provided part-payment for the construction of limestone retaining walls at their homes.
In March 2015, Mr Ball accepted an $850 cash deposit from a Dalyellup consumer for the construction of a wall after reducing the quote from $2,375 to $1,700. The work was not completed and no refund was offered.
In July 2016, Mr Ball accepted a total deposit of $3,655 from a Bunbury consumer under two contracts to build limestone retaining walls at both the front and back of the property. The deposits represented 50% of the total amounts quoted. The work was never started and no refunds paid.
The Court also ordered Mr Ball to re-pay a total of $4,505 to the consumers, as well as $604 in costs.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said consumers who pay deposits as high as 50% or more are putting their money at risk.
“Our recommendation is to pay no more than ten per cent up front and then only make progress payments as work is completed to your satisfaction,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Building contracts for amounts over $7,500 are covered by the Home Building Contracts Act and deposits must never exceed 6.5% of the contract price.
“Consumers are also advised to consider the benefits of using a credit card to pay a deposit, as they may be able to seek a charge reversal if there is non-supply or if the business ceases to trade.
“Paying large deposits or even the full amount up front takes away the consumer’s bargaining power if the work is not completed or fails to meet the expected standard of workmanship.”
Complaints against tradespeople who accept deposits and then don’t carry out the work can be lodged online on the Consumer Protection website www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au. Enquiries can be made by email email@example.com or by phone 1300 30 40 54.
Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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