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VIC Plumber Threatening to Go to VCAT for Undisclosed Call-Out Fee?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Clapton, 20 June 2016.

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  1. Clapton

    Clapton Member

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    I recently placed an ad on a quote seeking website for a plumber to give me a quote on some minor repairs around my home before renting it out. I recently became unemployed and separated from my partner so funds are very tight.

    A plumber responded to my ad and we made arrangements for him to attend my property to quote the repairs. The plumber came to my house and was very forceful and pushy in his advice, telling me the taps I had throughout my house were terrible and insisted that I should replace them. I had done some renovations only a few years previously and was very happy with my taps. He investigated a problem with my shower drain and left a hell of a mess for me to clean up.

    He told me what products I would need to purchase, and where I should purchase them from, quoting me $300 obviously assuming he was to be engaged to perform the repairs, although I had already made up my mind that his quote was too expensive for the minor repairs I needed. I was also sure I did not want this pushy person in my home again.

    He went to his van and came back to me with an invoice for a "call-out fee" for $150 plus GST. I was quite shocked because there had never been any mention of a "call-out fee" up until this point. Had I been told at any point there would be a call-out fee, I would never have agreed to a plumber coming out because I knew I did not have the money.

    I told him I did not have the money and would have no money until the following week. He said on his way out that I could pay by eft the next week. Because I felt very intimidated by his very brash behaviour, and because of recent domestic violence, I did not feel I could dispute anything with him and so did not argue and wanted him to leave asap.

    I have since received phone calls and emails from both the plumber and the quote seeking website requesting immediate payment.

    Firstly, I simply do not have the money to pay this and secondly, I believe the fee should have been mentioned prior to any attendance to quote.

    He is now threatening to take me to VCAT.

    I believe there has been misrepresentation on both the part of the plumber and the quote seeking service. Do I have a defence?

    Thanks in advance for any help.
     
  2. Victoria S

    Victoria S Well-Known Member

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    Hi Clapton,

    Businesses that charge a call out fee for providing a quote must tell the customer beforehand. Customers who aren’t told of the call out fee in advance don’t have to pay. This is stated on the WA Dept of Commerce website - I know you are in VIC but this is a standard contract / business law issue which is pretty standard. The Consumer VIC website also advises business people to notify customers beforehand of any call out fee to give a quote.

    It is only once you have received notice of a call out fee and you accept the cal out fee that you are contractually bound by it.

    Giving quotes - tradespeople and small works - Consumer Affairs Victoria
     
  3. Clapton

    Clapton Member

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    Thank you so much Victoria, this is perfect. Thank you.
     

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