Legal action against fencing contractor

Consumer Protection has taken legal action against a rogue fencing contractor who has been the subject of a high number of complaints from consumers.

United Fencing (WA) Pty Ltd of Mandurah, a registered company of sole director James Lee Battah of Harvey, closed their Bunbury office earlier this year. The company has signed a Court enforceable undertaking under the Australian Consumer Law with Consumer Protection which places strict conditions on present and future dealings with customers.

Consumer Protection has received 37 complaints against this company, most in the past five months, with customers claiming to have paid a total of $60,000 in deposits, but little or no work has been carried out. Many consumers have taken action in local Magistrates Courts to recover their deposits.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said complaints continue to be received despite assurances from the company that the work will be completed.

“United Fencing and its Director have largely ignored the complaints from their customers and have to date refused requests to refund deposits paid for work that has not been started or completed,” Ms Driscoll said.

“The most recent report from a consumer indicated that United Fencing may be contacting existing customers, demanding progress payments on jobs that they have yet to commence. Existing customers are advised not to pay any further payments to the company until work is completed to their complete satisfaction.”

The enforceable undertaking requires United Fencing to supply existing and future customers with written contracts that clearly set out a timeframe for completion of work, the costs involved and limits the amount of deposit to be paid to ten per cent of the contract price. The company will also be required to refund almost $43,000 in deposits to 24 customers by 15 April 2013.

“Consumer Protection will be closely monitoring this trader to ensure they abide by the condition of the undertaking and heavy penalties will apply if they fail to meet the strict conditions imposed on them,” the Commissioner said.

“Under the ACL, work must be carried out within in a reasonable time. Consumers would be wise to get a commitment in writing from traders setting out a timeframe for the completion of the work, a breakdown of the cost and exactly what work is to be carried out.”

Consumer Protection recommends that, when engaging the services of tradespeople, consumers should:

  • Obtain at least two written quotes for the work;
  • Pay only a small deposit and ask for receipts for any money paid;
  • Check the reputation and qualifications of the business operators – ask for references, inspect previous work carried out and perhaps do an internet search to see if positive or negative comments arise;
  • Ensure there is a clear understanding about what work needs to be carried out
  • Set a deadline or outline a timeframe in writing for when the work must be completed

For more information and advice, consumers can contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or by email: consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au .

END OF RELEASE

(Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Commerce)

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Media Contact:
Alan Hynd  9282 0961 or 0429-078791  alan.hynd@commerce.wa.gov.au

 

Consumer Protection
Media release
28 Mar 2013

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