Couple to pay $47,700 in consumer compensation, fines and costs (Kylie and Scott Sommer / Inspired Paving)
A Wanneroo couple involved in a landscaping business has been fined $12,000 by the Perth Magistrates Court on 8 March 2019 and ordered to pay a total of $32,986.67 in compensation to five out of six consumers for taking deposits but not commencing or completing the work.
Kylie Elizabeth Sommer, trading as Inspired Paving, and her husband Scott Robert Sommer, who was involved in the business, had taken substantial deposits from six consumers between August 2016 and April 2017 but, in most cases, did not carry out the landscaping work and failed to provide a refund. Each was fined $6,000 and the couple was also ordered to pay $2,713.30 in costs.
The charges arose from the following cases:
- A Kiara man who paid a total of $26,771 between August and November 2016 for various landscaping and fencing work but only some of the work was carried out by the deadline set by the consumer to coincide with a wedding to be held at his home;
- A Padbury woman who paid a deposit of $4,650 in November 2016 for paving work but only the compacting of the ground was carried out;
- A Parkerville woman who paid a total of $19,891 in October and November 2016 for paving work that was never commenced;
- An Ellenbrook woman who paid the total quote of $2,330 in December 2016 for paving work but only the removal of some existing paving was carried out;
- A Hamersley man who paid a $1,260 deposit in February 2017 for paving and fencing work that was never commenced;
- A Wanneroo woman who paid a $3,200 deposit in April 2017 for paving and fencing work but only some of the quoted services were carried out.
One of the consumers had already obtained a court order in their favour for compensation and two of the consumers were awarded an amount less than the deposits they paid, as they received partial supply of the materials and services from the couple.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said these were serious offences that betrayed the trust that consumers had placed in the business.
“Under the Australian Consumer Law, it is a criminal offence to take a deposit and then not deliver the goods and services within a reasonable time,” Ms Chopping said.
“The lesson here for consumers is to limit your risk by providing minimal money upfront. We recommend no more than ten per cent as a deposit and, for bigger jobs, progress payments can be made but only when certain stages of the work are completed and material supplied.
“Under no circumstances should consumers pay the full amount upfront as this provides little incentive for some tradespeople to finish the work and takes away any bargaining power the consumer has if the work does not meet expectations.
“It’s also wise to set clear timeframes for the completion of the work and get it in writing so there is no confusion. If there are unacceptable delays in completing the work, consumers can demand a refund in order to engage another operator or contact Consumer Protection.”
Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / firstname.lastname@example.org