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VIC Small Business Invoiced Cancellation Fee but Not Disclosed at time of Booking?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Le85, 23 April 2015.

  1. Le85

    Le85 Active Member

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    I recently made an appointment for the following afternoon with an interior decorator to come to my home to discuss her services. On the day of the appointment, I had to cancel my appointment due to work commitments. She has now invoiced me for $50 (her "consultation" fee was $75). During the telephone booking there was no disclosure of a cancellation fee and on her website there is also no disclosure any form of cancellation fee, only her costs for her services.

    My question is:
    1. Am I liable to pay this undisclosed cancellation fee?
    2. Is it her duty to disclose a cancellation fee at time of booking under Australian consumer law?
    3. Can she enforce her invoice? Would collection agencies take her case and come after me for monies owed?
    4. If the business is in breach of conduct, where can I find more information?
     
  2. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Lely,

    It is unlikely that the interior decorator is entitled to the short notice cancellation fee without disclosing it beforehand.
    However rather than immediately looking at the legal options, if it was me I would call her office and explain that whilst it is understandable that cancellation at short notice does inconvenience her, if she would like to charge a cancellation fee, she must provide that information when the booking is made. I would say that you would be happy to pay the fee next time, however on this occasion given that she didn't disclose the information, you won't be paying. See what response they have to that.

    If they don't respond to that, you can look at your options, such as contacting Consumer Affairs Victoria. Consumer Affairs Victoria - Consumer Affairs Victoria
     
  3. Le85

    Le85 Active Member

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    Thank you so much for your response Ivy, I have sympathized and have profusely apologized the inconvenience however she's still has invoiced me again and sent me a reminder email.

    I have contacted consumer affairs, they've stated there is no current legislation in place for a scenario such as mine however, APPARENTLY the onus is on the consumer to query any cancellation fees prior to booking. I argued that shouldn't be the case because consumers go by the information that they're provided and that its very underhanded because then businesses can go around charging whatever fees they want, undisclosed.

    So now I'm trying to find away to approach in a professional manner and if I had some supporting material I could provide her to show that she must disclose her cancellation fee it would help me avoid any further argument from her. (I feel that she is the type to start one)
     
  4. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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    The Australian Competition and Consumer Act prohibits unfair contract terms. When you made an appointment with the interior decorator, you were entering a contract for the provision of services, albeit an oral one. Unfair contractual terms can include nontransparent contractual terms (for example non-disclosure of cancellation fees) and penalty pricing (for example charging a higher cancellation fee than what is necessary to cover costs). The Victorian Consumer Law website explains all of this on the following webpage: When customers cancel – guidance for tourism businesses - Consumer Affairs Victoria
    Let me know if you would like a link to legislative provisions.
     
  5. Le85

    Le85 Active Member

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    Yes please, I would definitely like the legislative link please.

    I appreciate your advice Ivy, thank you so much
     
  6. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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  7. Le85

    Le85 Active Member

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    Thank you again, you have been very helpful. I will refer the business owner to these links that you have given me and the dispute should hopefully end there.
     

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