The warning follows nine complaints to the agency this year alleging a Wangara gas and airconditioning tradesman failed to carry out work despite accepting upfront payments of more than $12,000.
Consumer Protection commissioner Anne Driscoll said the office was taking legal action against the tradesman and his businesses, for which there had been numerous other consumer complaints and inquiries since January 2011. The number of complaints had escalated recently.
‘This is yet another reminder that paying large deposits or paying the full amount upfront for work yet to be carried out is a risky business,’ she said.
‘Consumers should never pay the full amount before work commences and should pay small deposits only if necessary. Under the Australian Consumer Law, the work must be completed within a reasonable time.
‘Consumers should take steps to ensure they are dealing with a reputable business with a proven track record before handing over any money.
‘Ask for references, inspect previous work carried out and perhaps do an internet search to see if positive or negative comments arise.
‘Consumers should also consider paying by credit card with the possibility of getting a charge-back if the work is not carried out.’
Consumers having problems can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 304 054.