Under the Australian Consumer Law (“ACL”) which came into effect from 1 January 2011, there are statutory guarantees in relation to services that are provided.

This means that a tradesman who performs work for you is required, under the ACL, to guarantee that:

  • the services will be provided with due care and skill;
  • if you, as the consumer, expressly or implicitly, make known to the him, the tradesman, a particular purpose for which his services are being acquired, there is a guarantee that the services provided will be reasonably fit for your purposes; and
  • he will perform the services within a reasonable time.

If these guarantees are not met, then you have rights against the tradesman.

What are my rights?

Generally, where there is a problem with a service, you can ask for a repair, replacement or refund. If it is a minor problem, then the tradesman may choose to provide you with a free repair to a quality that you are satisfied with, as opposed to a refund.

However, if there are major problems with the services that have been provided to you, you may cancel the contract with the tradesman and then choose to either:

  • receive a compensation for the drop in value below the price you paid for the tradesman’s services; or
  • a refund.

When can I cancel the services of the tradesman?

If you are having problems with the quality of services, you should first speak to the tradesman and explain the problems. If the tradesman is unable to fix the problem or unable to fix it within a reasonable time, make it clear that you want to cancel their services.

If there is a major problem with their services, or a minor problem which can be fixed, but not within a reasonable time, you have rights to cancel the services when the services:

  • have been provided without an acceptable level of care and skill;
  • are unfit for the particular purpose that you requested; and
  • were not delivered within a reasonable time.

You have the right to seek a refund if you’ve already made payment for the services. You may also have rights for compensation for damages or losses if such damages or losses were caused by the problems in the services.

You should, however, note that, you cannot cancel services simply because you changed your mind or failed to properly explain your needs and expectations to the tradesman.

How do I know if it is a major problem?

There is a major problem with a service when:

  • the service is substantially unfit for the purpose and cannot be fixed within a reasonable time;
  • the service does not meet the specific purpose that you acquired the services for;
  • the services, or the problem which has arisen out of the services, creates an unsafe situation;
  • the problem would have stopped any other individual from purchasing such services if they had known about it.

Conclusion

Unsure of whether or not there are major problems with the tradesman’s work? Unsure of how you can enforce your rights? Contact a business lawyer today!

Priscilla Ng

Next Steps

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