Major problems with services
A major problem with services is when:
- A reasonable consumer would not have bought the services if they had known the nature and extent of the problem. For example, a reasonable consumer would not pay to have acrylic nails attached if they knew the nails would fall off within an hour;
- The services are substantially unfit for their normal purpose and cannot easily be made fit, within a reasonable time. For example, a carpet-cleaning service changes the colour of the consumer’s carpet in some places;
- The consumer told the supplier they wanted a specific purpose but the services, and any resulting product, do not achieve that purpose and cannot easily or within a reasonable time be made to achieve it. For example, a consumer tells a pay TV company they want to watch the Olympics. They sign up to a 24-month contract but the Olympics are over before the company installs the service;
- The consumer told the supplier they wanted a specific result but the services, and any resulting product, do not achieve that result and cannot easily or within a reasonable time be made to achieve it. For example, a consumer asks a technician to increase the memory capacity of the consumer’s computer. When installing an extra drive, the technician damages the hard drive. Repairs will take six weeks but the consumer needs the computer within a week; or
- The supply of the services has created an unsafe situation. For example, an electrician incorrectly wires wall sockets in a consumer’s new kitchen, which makes the electrical outlets unsafe.
When there is a major failure with a service, you can choose to:
- cancel the service contract and get a refund; or
- keep the contract and get compensation for the difference in the service delivered and what they paid for.
You get to choose, not the supplier.
A consumer has signed a building contract that sets out the specifications for her new house. When the house is completed, the consumer notices a few windows are not in the right place. Because the builder has not met the standard required by the contract, the consumer is entitled to compensation
Minor problems with services
For minor problems that can be fixed, you cannot cancel and demand a refund immediately.
You must give the supplier an opportunity to fix the problem. They must do this:
- free of charge; and
- within a reasonable time. This depends on the circumstances.
A reasonable time to fix a problem with a haircut would be much shorter than the reasonable time to fix a problem with a landscaping project.
If the supplier refuses to fix the problem or takes too long, you can:
- get someone else to deliver the service and ask the supplier to pay reasonable costs; or
- cancel the contract and get some or all of your money back, if you have already paid. If you have not yet paid, or only partly paid, you can refuse to pay for the defective services at all, or pay less than the agreed price.
A reasonable cost would be within the normal range charged by suppliers, and include:
- the cost of the repair; and
- any other associated costs.