The WA Government has recently issued a number of warnings to both the industry and consumers in regard to the practices of some unsavoury WA Plumbers.
The issues comes down to people calling plumbers in to resolve a plumbing issue and being upsold into purchasing expensive new hot water systems which do not comply with Australian Standards.
Like any industry the activity of a few can tarnish many.
The Government has reiterated that a 10 business day cooling-off period applies to any approach from sellers of services or goods (even if they are there to provide a quote) – it’s called an unsolicited sale in the Australian Consumer Law. So, if a plumber is called out to fix a leaky tap but then quotes for a whole new hot water system, a cooling-off period applies. If the purpose of a tradesperson’s visit is ONLY to quote, a cooling-off period must be applied to any resulting transaction. During the 10 business day cooling-off period:
- no money can change hands;
- no work can be carried out; and
- the consumer can cancel the contract without penalty.
Government investigators have the option of issuing a business with an infringement notice 21 days from the date an unlawful unsolicited consumer agreement was entered into. If an unsolicited consumer agreement breaches legal requirements, for example when a customer isn’t provided with information about their cancellation rights, the cooling-off period extends from 10 business days to six months from the date the agreement was made.
The Government provides the following Consumer Protection Tips:
- Get more than one quote for work around the home.
- If possible use a tradesperson because they’ve done a good job for someone you know.
- When a tradesperson is not personally recommended, ask for references, inspect previous work and carry out an internet search to see if there are positive or negative reviews.
- Check the credentials of the business before signing any contracts or handing over any money (you can carry out an ABN search online for example).
- For licensed trades, such as a plumber, carry out a licence search at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au.
- Be wary of upselling – agreeing to extra work when a tradie is at your home can be much more costly than shopping around.
At Houspect we would also recommend that every quote includes a statement that the work must comply with the Building Code of Australia and applicable Australian Standards.
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