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VIC Australian Consumer Law - Is Customer Entitled to Compensation?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by ianaglyphred, 8 February 2016.

  1. ianaglyphred

    ianaglyphred Active Member

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    My wife recently had a transaction with a reptile buyer in Western Australia. She is from Victoria. Here is a copy of what happened. She sent me this as she doesn't know what to do and we're looking for options how to protect ourselves if things go wrong. Phone help wasn't too helpful.

    "Purchased 7 snakes all up from me in 3 transactions.

    On the second transaction, he wanted another female. The snake was probed by myself as borderline female - he was told this and I told him I did not guarantee the sex as I was not comfortable doing this.
    He rings me saying he probed it as male and is asks for compensation.

    I say I would offer some bubs out of next clutch for him to purchase. He agrees.

    I have three bubs, he wants females once again. I say as always I won't guarantee the sex. He wants them sexed via vet.

    Take to vet. Vet sexes. One female, one male and one borderline.

    Say this to daniel - he is happy to proceed. Offer paperwork from vet, he declines paperwork. Total cost of sale $1300

    Few weeks later he messages me, one female but other is male.

    He wants a female snake or a compensation of $500.

    I explain I never guaranteed the sex of animals even when they went to vet due to their age. He demands $500.

    In good faith, I offer him $250 and he declines.

    No longer have paperwork from vet - but have payment receipt"

    There was no guarantee of the sex of the animals, and he knew this and accepted the risk. But he feels he deserves compensation. We have multiple copies of communications with the gentleman where it's repeatedly stated that there is no guarantee of animal's sex; they're animals.

    Just wanting to know what our footing is. Can we just block all communication and walk away or are we in the clear? Or do we legally have to give him compensation under Australian Consumer Law?

    It's similar to being told that a car is not safe to drive, buying it, driving it and crashing it...
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Looks like from your post you do not have much to worry from a legal perspective. You did not deceive him, he bought at an agreed price knowing the sex was not guaranteed (hopefully you have this last point in writing).

    He may still initiate action against you in WA and I suspect you didn't say in your contract that disputes must be heard in Vic? (hint: put it in from now on)

    Up to you as to how you proceed. Defending a case in WA is a pain, even if you win.
     
  3. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    Does your wife have a Private Wildlife Licence from DEPI?
     
  4. ianaglyphred

    ianaglyphred Active Member

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    All licenses are current and valid, all proper paperwork was submitted by all parties. She's work beside depi on numerous occasions.

    It's more along the lines that he wanted guaranteed female snakes when a guarantee can't be given due to snakes age, even the vet has said they looked female at the time, nut nothing is definite at that age.

    This was passed on to the buyer, who said he'll take them but still wanted females.

    Long story short, the buyer was told numerous times that sex couldn't be guaranteed, but buyer bought anyway knowing this. Now that snakes have matured more and presented as males he wants compensation.
     
  5. ianaglyphred

    ianaglyphred Active Member

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    That's a good idea saying disputes must be heard in Vic if he wishes to pursue
     
  6. ianaglyphred

    ianaglyphred Active Member

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    My wife has revealed more of the conversation with the buyer. I wish she had earlier.

    - Said no guarantees of snake sex on first contact with buyer

    - He wanted vet to probe the snakes (a procedure to measure depth of the sex organs), vet probed to 2 scale depth on one [female] and got 4 on other [technically female however the animals can tense up and give a false reading]. Snakes were under 20cm at the time of sexing. Only real way to 100% guarantee sex at this size is through popping the sex organs out of the snake which is dangerous if done incorrectly. I told D plenty of times I would not do this.

    - Told him what vet said - offered paperwork, he declined

    - He proceeded with sale.

    Any help is appreciated.
     
  7. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    If it is not in your current agreement, then he may have the option of having the case heard in WA. I've not looked at the WA laws to know one way or another. You already have a contract for the sale of the snakes to the WA guy. You can't legally change the terms of the sale after the sale unless the other party agrees.

    My opinion is to cover you for future disputes.
     
  8. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    It is your choice as to whether you stand your ground (good legal basis for doing so), or apply customer service skills and maybe come to a compromise where you concede some ground and maybe get future sales. Keep in mind he is likely to want to breed snakes himself, hence the need for females.

    It now comes down to you making a business decision, albeit one with potential legal consequences.
     
  9. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    And is your wife a commercial operator, such that the ACL might be in play?
     
  10. ianaglyphred

    ianaglyphred Active Member

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    No, it was a private sale.
    Advice on the sex of snakes was given by a vet, which happened to be incorrect.

    We also don't know if the buyer is pulling our legs either.
     

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