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Kitchen Contracts - What Can I Do Under Australian Consumer Law?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Bert, 26 May 2014.

  1. Bert

    Bert Member

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    We signed and paid a deposit on a kitchen and laundry renovation in January this year. At the time we were told by the designer/salesperson that he always "over quoted on the trades." We were given a "promotional discount" of three thousand dollars.

    Our next dealings were with the same person when he came to do the measurement and design of the kitchen. He had to make some adjustments to the design to keep the price under our top end figure, and we had to make some concessions on the design. Before he left he tore up the contract. He said another contract would be in the mail. He took the old contract with him. Except for two emails, this was the last time we dealt with this gentleman. No contract was received in the mail.

    The next visit was from the job manager. He also did a measurement and said that we had been under quoted by two thousand dollars, but that was alright because (he said) the discount we had received would easily cover that. By the time he left, after seeing my discomfort and after a phone conversation with the designer, the amount was dropped to fifteen hundred dollars. He also said that a new contract would be in the mail within a week.

    We have not signed a new contract. None came through the mail. They have not attempted to initiate any contact with us since the second measurement. After a few weeks we went to their shop and estimates were given to us (contractual terms were on the back of those estimates).

    All but one of the trades have given us written quotes; the tiler has done a written estimate. We are not sure if installation of the bench top is included in the pricing.

    There have been six changes to the kitchen company's pricing, mostly via email. The last price was less than the initial amount, and we agreed to it... subject to it being fixed at that price. We got an email from the store manager saying; "You drive a hard bargain! But I am pleased to confirm that we will provide a fixed price to supply and install your new kitchen."

    I went to the store at Gepps Cross (South Australia) to pay the progress payment, but I was still worried about the "fixed price" and I asked that a rider be added to the contract to reflect what had been said in the email. The store manager refused another contract and/or a rider saying the email was a legal document. (We do not have a signed copy of any contract whatsoever.) And I asked for final payment to be made after installation, or at least some part of it, as was agreed by him in the email. The store manager (then) told me that "I could not hold them to what was said in the email as it was not a legal document."

    I asked for our deposit back and was given the state manager's email address. I sent a short email to the state manager asking for our deposit to be refunded and got a curt reply basically saying that they would make us uphold our legal obligations. I sent a longer email, similar to what I have said here, and, after a few days, received a reply saying the the state manager would be talking to his management team next week to discuss our situation.
    What are the options under Australian Consumer Law or Contract Law? It has got the point where I have lost all trust in this company. I would like to wash my hands of the whole thing; get our deposit back, if possible. If not, then just legally getting quit of them would be a Godsend.
     
  2. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi Bert,
    It appears that you've taken some steps to resolve the frustration to date - great work!
    From the information provided, it appears that your key issues are:
    1. It is now ~5 months since you first paid the deposit (and initially agreed on a fixed price?) for your kitchen and laundry renovation.
    2. You do not have a contract. (side note - you mention that contract terms were on the back of the estimates but didn't elaborate on these contract terms)
    3. There is uncertainty over whether the terms agreed to by the Store Manager in emails will be covered under the contract.
    In relation to Issue 1, under Australian Consumer Law:
    "When a business accepts your payment for products or services they must supply them to you within the timeframe they have indicated or if no time was specified, within a reasonable time. If you do not receive the products or services you have paid for, your first step should be to contact the business to try and resolve the problem."

    In relation to Issues 2 and 3, the ACCC website has further information on entering into a contract that you may consider reviewing.

    Pending any response from the State Manager, and assuming that you are dissatisfied with their response, lodging a complaint with Consumer and Business Services (CBS) South Australia is the next most likely step to resolve the dispute.

    Hope this helps. Good luck with the renovations and please keep us updated with your progress!
     
  3. Bert

    Bert Member

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  4. Bert

    Bert Member

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    Thank you John.
    The state manager has replied to my email. He seems confused as to who promised the fixed price. He has asked for the "fixed prices" the trades have given me. At no time did I say anything about the trades giving me fixed quotes. I made it quite clear to him that it was his store manager who sent me the email agreeing to a fixed price. I returned his email explaining this to him, along with a copy of the previous email of explanation. I rather think he is stalling. I am waiting on his reply.
     
  5. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Keep persisting Bert - Hopefully you get a positive outcome soon.
     
  6. Kato

    Kato Guest

    Amazing your the best john

    [Spam URL removed by moderator]
     
    #6 Kato, 29 May 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: 29 May 2014
  7. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Any update Bert?
     
  8. Bert

    Bert Member

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    They seem to want to negotiate (still), and the line has softened slightly, but that is all. There could be a meeting with the state manager week after next. I have taken into account what you advised. Will keep you in the loop. Thank you John.
     

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