A CUSTOMER of a Bayswater panel beater had to get help from the police to get their vehicle back.
Consumer Protection has now issued a public warning about the business.
Raymond John Goodall, trading as The Force in Smash Repairs (deregistered), has attracted many consumer complaints and currently has dozens of vehicles that have been waiting for repair for a long period of time.
Mr Goodall’s motor vehicle repairer’s licence was not renewed in April 2019, so he is unable to complete the work legally, and his business name was deregistered in March 2019.
During an inspection by Consumer Protection officers in May 2018, his business had 46 vehicles in for repairs but only two full-time repairers.
Mr Goodall said at the time three staff worked part-time and committed to completing outstanding jobs.
The inspection found information recorded on vehicle ownership was poor, that some vehicles were subject to court actions and some had been kept at the premises for more than three years.
There were 10 complaints about the business last year and eight so far this year.
One customer made two payments of $3000 and $2800 in cash and was promised their vehicle would be ready in three weeks, but is still waiting for it 18 months later.
Another customer paid $1500 in cash but seven months later was asked to pay another $500 to get their vehicle back.
A third customer who paid $1200 in cash had to get help from police to get their vehicle repaired and returned after three months.
Consumer Protection Commissioner Penny Lipscombe said the smash repair business once specialised in repairable write-offs as well as repairing taxis.
“Many of the complainants are taxi or Uber drivers who are losing money every day their vehicle is not on the road, creating even more stress and financial detriment due to loss of income,” Ms Lipscombe said.
“Being unlicensed, Mr Goodall should not be accepting any new jobs and is unable to clear the backlog of work. Attempts by owners to retrieve their vehicles from the Bayswater yard have failed, along with our attempts to resolve the issue.
“While we are aware of some of the owners of the vehicles in the yard, we really need to locate all owners affected, so we urge them to come forward and lodge a complaint so we have their details on record.
“To accept money and agree on a completion date, then not meet that commitment, is a serious breach of the Australian Consumer Law and traders are obliged to provide a refund for work not carried out and, in this case, release the vehicle to the consumer when they request it so they can get the repairs done elsewhere.
“Businesses should not accept deposits and make promises to consumers when they know that their ability to fulfil those commitments within a reasonable time is limited.”
In October 2012 Mr Goodall, trading as The Force in Smash Repairs, was fined a total of $5000 by the Perth Magistrates Court for operating without a licence and misleading consumers about his licence status.
Consumers who have had unsatisfactory dealings with Mr Goodall and The Force in Smash Repairs or have a vehicle still awaiting repair are urged to lodge an online complaint on the Consumer Protection website, or download a paper form.
Email email@example.com or call 1300 304 054.