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VIC Dodgy Recruitment Agency Contract Cancellation

Discussion in 'Other/General Law Forum' started by Ramesh, 6 October 2014.

  1. Ramesh

    Ramesh Member

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    I was recently approached by a Recruitment agency claiming they can place me in a job to suit my profile. They picked up my resume online from Careerone.com.au. They offered life time services at $1650 where I would get a video resume done, interview tips, mock interviews, job leads and would arrange interviews with prospective employers from their data base. Beyond that it would be my capabilities to land the job.

    They took $500 initial deposit and had 3 monthly payment of $383.50/each month as a payment plan.

    I signed the contract which had no cool off period mentioned. But immediately on signing the contract, within a day, I saw scathing reviews on line about this company and next business day, I called them up to cancel my contract and refund the initial deposit of $500 taken from my credit card.

    They refused to refund the money and cancel the contract. In turn, offered my a downgraded package of just 3 months contract (for $550) with the same services offered, except no video resume but a paper resume and cover letter. They advised me to allow them 1 weeks time to see they capabilities to prove their worth and said I could decide to go ahead or not at the end of the week subject to what they had to offer.

    That 1 week got stretched to 2 weeks+ as they had issues of my emails to them bouncing back ( not due to any error on my part but problems with their server), consultants not available to assist me readily, took time to prepare my paper resume which was not very professional and lacked lot of information I had provided them. Took time to even submit a paper cover letter. In the meanwhile, my next due payment was also taken out on the due date.

    At the end of the period, when I expressed my dissatisfaction of the services provided so far and wanted to cancel the contract, they refused saying I had utilized their services and they cannot refund the money nor cancel the contract. If I still wanted to cancel, I would have to do so by forfeiting my deposit, sign a volutanry termination letter which said, I would not take any legal action against them, nor defame them in any way and that I was doing it with full consent and mutual agreement to settle the issue amicably.

    I went to Consumer Affairs Victoria which started the reconciliatory process and wanted me to first give the merchant time to respond and resolve. With the ongoing process, whicih took about 4 weeks, the CAV's resolution was that the trader is not willing to refund and CAV cannot force them to do anything further.

    Also, during this time, the Merchant said, they did not have a 3 month plan and what I would get if I wanted the 3 month plan was only unlimited access to their office ( to visit them every time spending more money and time on travel) get paper resumes done, mock interview tips and consultants to assist me, but no interviews would be arranged with prospective employers, no data base leads of jobs etc.

    I am still fighting with them and my questions are:
    > How do I resolve this issue and get my refund?
    > How do I ensure that I cancel the contract under contract law, and get a termination letter without any unilateral clauses such as no recourse to future legal action by me?

    I want the full refund of my money paid, damages for the wrong information and services provided, some sort of compensation for all the time, money and effort I spent in travelling, following up, making calls, waiting for their response etc.

    These people are smooth talkers, who ( except the initial contract signed which has all onesided terms and conditions) have not given anything further in writing. They don't respond to emails. Dodge my calls and text messages, so except the initial contract there is nothing else in writing(except each time I have emailed them about my intentions and consequence)

    I would appreciate a correct opinion by an employment law expert who can help me resolve this issue.

    thanks
     
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Generally, there are only 2 circumstances in which you can end a contract without penalty:
    • where a business misrepresented the service or the terms or conditions under which they are supplied;or
    • when a cooling-off period applies (If no cooling off period is stipulated in the contract itself, it will only be available if it was a contract for goods or services purchased through telemarketing or door to door sales.
    To an extent the law aims to protect the freedom of individuals to enter into contracts on whatever terms they wish. Thus it is usually assumed that if you have entered into an agreement, you have read, understood and agreed to all the terms and conditions. However in circumstances where you have no opportunity to negotiate the terms of an agreement (i.e. where a standard form contract is used) the law provides relief from unfair terms. An unfair term is considered to be one that give rise to a significant imbalance between the rights and obligations of the business and your rights under the agreement, is not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the business and/or causes the consumer detriment (financial or non-financial) if the business tried to enforce it.

    It is unlikely that a cooling off period applies to this agreement, so unless you can find some other grounds to avoid the contract (such as an unfiar term), you are bound by its terms. Here is a link to some information on how to complain to the ACCC. https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/complaints-problems/make-a-consumer-complaint
     
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  3. Ramesh

    Ramesh Member

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    Thank you so much Sophea for detailed answer. I contemplate going to VCAT with an unfair terms option as there was a sea change between what they first promised and finally offered. Especially the changing of the 3 months package. But my question is none of this is in writing nor on their website. Would it still stand up at the tribunal? I wish I had recorded my conversation! And another question I have is - if I don't sign and accept the cancellation letter ( because it has unfair term) would the merchant be still able to charge me the rest of the amount in the coming months? What are my chances of winning this fight? I would appreciate your feed back on this please. ( I have an ail from them which says they won't charge but it also asks me to sign and accept termination letter) Unfortunately in this case I got stuck but I am pretty sure they target gullible new immigrants, international students, desperate jobseekers, with not much financial muscle who don't fight back or scared of visa repercussions and just succumb and let it go. They need to be stopped in the larger interest of the community.

    And also if I sign any termination letter then what are my chances of getting the deposit back? Because I would have said "I accept.... Blah blah....). Thanks.
     
  4. Ramesh

    Ramesh Member

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