Rockingham: senior hit by hefty bill

A MAN who organised a quote for a garden clean-up for his elderly friend was left distraught after the business charged his friend thousands of dollars for a few hours work.

Ken Johnson, of Rockingham, said he was approached in his front yard by a woman who asked if he would like to have his trees trimmed.

“She quoted $2500 for the job and I said, ‘don’t be ridiculous; I can’t afford that’ and she said we could negotiate,” Mr Johnson said.

“We settled on $650 and they did a good job of trimming a tree at the front.”

Mr Johnson wanted a quote for his 95-year-old friend Robert Topham.

“She quoted him $3000,” he said.

“I looked at Bob and shook my head to try tell him no but he didn’t see me properly. I was just too shocked to say anything.

“They started work soon after so I did not get a chance to talk to her.

“It took them about three hours.”

Mr Topham lives in a duplex and has a small narrow yard.

“They took out two medium trees and cleaned up,” Mr Johnson said.

“It was very overgrown and they did a good job, but the price was excessive.”.

He said the next morning he went to Mr Topham’s to take him to a doctor’s appointment.

“I was running late and the woman was there to collect the money,” he said.

“I told her, ‘you have crossed a line. You can’t charge this. I was ready to recommend you to friends; I can’t tolerate this’.”

Mr Johnson said Mr Topham was house-bound, had cancer in one eye and was hard of hearing.

A complaint has been lodged with Consumer Protection.

Acting director of retail and services Lanie Chopping said they were conciliating with both parties.

“When an individual or business goes to a consumer’s home to quote but then enters into negotiations for supply, this becomes what is known legally as an unsolicited consumer agreement,” she said.

“This is because the purpose of the visit was to quote and the law provides protection for consumers because the consumer did not necessarily expect to be signing a contract for good or services.

“The trader must notify the consumer of their cancellation options; the right to terminate the agreement within 10 business days (the cooling off period) and a document the consumer can use to cancel the deal. Services should not be carried out and payment should not be taken during the 10-business day cooling off period.”

Visit www.commerce.wa.gov.au/doortodoor for more information.

The Courier contacted Pj’s Tree Services on Monday but it did not want to comment. On Tuesday, Mr Johnson said Pj’s Tree Services was offering a $2000 refund.

“Consumer Protection told me that they would stay on the case until the money is paid,” he said.

“Bob was glad to hear that they’re willing to refund some of the money.”