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A Ballajura fencing contractor who took money from consumers but failed to deliver was ordered by the Joondalup Magistrates Court to pay almost $16,000 in fines, compensation and costs on 8 September 2017.
Steven John Pietersen, trading as Flawless Glass Fencing, was fined $5,000 after pleading guilty to four charges of accepting payment but failing to supply all the goods and services in breach of the Australian Consumer Law. He was also ordered to pay compensation of $9,776 to four consumers as well as costs of $1,173.50. Mr Pietersen had already paid back $9,000 to affected consumers when sentenced.
Mr Pietersen took payments from four consumers between January and December 2014:
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said this was another case that highlighted the dangers of consumers paying too much money upfront.
“Paying a large deposit increases the financial risk to consumers with a greater chance of losing their money should the business fail to deliver or go broke before the job is done,” Mr Hillyard said.
“So we strongly recommend that consumers never pay the full amount upfront and keep the deposit as low as possible. For bigger jobs, making progress payments at certain stages of completion or as materials are delivered is an option worth considering.
“Consumers should use their bargaining power and have the confidence to dictate the terms of progress payments and not just accept what the trader demands. Also consider the benefits of using a credit card to pay a deposit, as you may be able to seek a charge reversal if there is non-supply or if the business goes under.
“Your rights under the Australian Consumer Law mean that work must be carried out within a reasonable amount of time or finished by the completion date stated in the contract, so get in touch with Consumer Protection if there are unreasonable delays.”
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 who have paid for a product or service which wasn’t supplied can lodge a complaint on the Consumer Protection website: www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection or enquiries can be made by email email@example.com or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / firstname.lastname@example.org