Consumer Warnings and Information Useful and Handy Information

Just Ask – Consumer Warnings and Information

With Tom Chapman | Senior Regional Officer 7th Consumer Protection – Kimberley Region

7th February 2019

Don’t fall for high pressure tactics from travelling tradies

For many people, Wet Season is a time to finally get onto some of those maintenance things around the house, but this is also the time of year when travelling tradespeople start approaching householders and businesses with ‘cheap’ deals on jobs like roof painting and tree lopping.

Travelling salespeople often use high pressure tactics to make their deal and can charge exorbitant rates for sometimes sub-standard work, so we are reminding consumers to be aware of their right to a cooling off period when they receive an uninvited approach from a tradesperson.

We recommend that anyone considering expensive work for projects such as roof painting should shop around for quotes and use reputable local tradespeople.

If a salesperson comes to your home out of the blue or for the purpose of providing a quote but enters into negotiations to supply, then you have rights under the Australian Consumer Law unsolicited consumer agreement provisions. You should get a 10 business day cooling off period to think about it and check prices and, if it’s not what you expected, then you can cancel the contract.

Consumer law also requires services to be carried out with due care and skill, and in a reasonable amount of time. When entering into any trades or services agreement we recommend that you get the cost of the job and timeframe for completion of work in writing.

Also only pay a minimal deposit of about 10 per cent or, for larger jobs, negotiate progress payments as stages of the work are completed. It is illegal for tradespeople to accept deposits of more than 6.5 per cent for building work valued at more than $7,500.

Ask if the business will take a credit card payment. If they do, this could offer a safeguard because of the possibility of getting a chargeback (transaction reversal) if the work is not carried out.

And obtain a record of any payment made and ensure the receipt or invoice includes the details of the business on it.

Key things to do before hiring someone include:

Getting several quotes, including those from personally recommended or industry association recognised tradespeople.

Undertaking a general internet search for positive or negative reviews is also useful, and this includes visiting our website which lists information about named traders and compliance actions.

Verifying claims by asking to see previous work and speaking to past clients. Don’t just rely on photos or written testimonials or a website. Also ask to see any public liability insurance policy they claim to have.

Checking that the business is registered, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has a guide to identifying a genuine business at www.accc.gov.au, and, if it’s a licensed profession such as an electrician, builder or plumber, then carry out a licence search on the Building and Energy website at www.dmirs.wa.gov.au.

For more information or assistance call Consumer Protection on 1300 304 054, send an email to consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or visit www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au.


24th January 2019

Make sure your donations go to legitimate charities

Western Australians are well known for their generosity but donors need to ensure that they are dealing with a licensed organisation to ensure their money reaches the intended recipients.

Always ask for identification from door-to-door charity collectors and, if you do donate to them, get a receipt.

Times for door-to-door collections for a charitable purpose are between 9am and 6pm Monday to Saturday. Generally no collections are allowed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Any organisation or club collecting money or goods from the public for charitable purposes needs to be licensed under the Charitable Collections Act, which is administered by Consumer Protection.

Well-meaning community members trying to raise money for others can end up inadvertently doing the wrong thing because they are unaware of the need to get a licence or to ask an established charity to work under their licence and supervision.

There is no fee required to obtain a licence and applications are reviewed by the Charitable Collections Advisory Committee. This committee consists of five independent members appointed by the Governor of Western Australia, it meets monthly to consider new applications or make recommendations to the Minister about charity licensing matters.

As a condition of holding a licence, the charity has to lodge financial statements to show money is being spent as it should be, and that only reasonable operating costs are deducted.

Making charities accountable in this way also helps to protect them from criticism about funds not being used appropriately.

However, it’s important to be aware that organisations collecting and receiving money from the public for non-charitable purposes do not need a licence. This includes social and sporting clubs, schools or kindergartens, which raise funds for their own use.

Tip for donors:

Haven’t heard of a charity before? Check WA’s licensed charities register at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au before donating.

Ask face-to-face collectors for proof of identity and permission to collect, such as a street collection permit or authorisation letter from a licensed charity.

Make sure you know if it is a one-off or ongoing donation before you sign up, and how you can cancel if needed.

Report unlicensed charity collections to Consumer Protection or complain to the relevant crowd funding website if you think a campaign is a scam.

Tips for collectors:
To run a one-off, short-term fundraiser, approach an existing licensed charity, such as a Rotary Club, to ask to collect under their authority.

For crowd funding campaigns we recommend Everyday Hero, which connects the fundraising campaign to established charities.

Charitable organisations wishing to authorise fundraising activities under their charity licence should download the guidance pack from our website.

Further information is available at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au, by calling 1300 304 054, or by emailing charities@dmirs.wa.gov.au.


10th January 2019

Don’t duck out – make portable pools safe

Many of us have fond memories of splashing around in a portable pool as a child and, as Wet Season cranks up, we’ve launched a campaign to remind parents and carers to make these pools safer.

Portable pools – ranging from small blow-up or plastic paddling kiddie pools to bigger wading pools, inflatable spas or high-sided flexible plastic pools on a frame – are popular as a cheaper alternative to below-ground pools but they are just as dangerous.

On average one child dies from a portable pool-related drowning every year in Australia, while others need hospital treatment, may be left with severe brain injuries and limited life expectancy. For example a toddler who drowned in a portable pool in Noranda in 2015 sadly passed away two years later.

Drowning statistics have prompted Australian Consumer Law and product safety regulators to join forces with the Royal Life Saving Society to spread water safety messages.

We partnered with Royal Life Saving in 2014/15 to run a campaign called ‘Make It Safe’ and now we’ve added the reminder of ‘Don’t Duck Out’ of the responsibilities you take on when you buy a portable pool which may include putting up a safety barrier.

Adults following the Don’t Duck Out, Make It SAFE tips, such as keeping constant watch of kids around portable pools, can reduce the risk and potentially save lives. The SAFE tips are to:

  • Supervise – actively watch children within arm’s reach. Don’t leave older children in charge.

  • Act – learn emergency first aid including CPR. It’s important to start compressions and breaths as soon as possible when a child is pulled from the water and to call triple zero (000) for help. If there are two people, one should make the phone call while the other does CPR.

  • Fence – in WA, and most of Australia, pools with more than 30cm of water in, are legally required to have a compliant safety barrier and could be fined or prosecuted if you don’t. Check with your local Council.

  • Empty and store safely – after keeping watch all day, pour out water and put the pool away where children can’t reach. Never leave it where it can refill with rain or sprinkler water.

As part of the campaign, we’ve been working with major retailers who will also be helping to spread the Don’t Duck Out, Make It SAFE message at the point of sale. Under the Australian Consumer Law, portable pools and their packaging are required to have labels drawing the buyer’s attention to drowning risk, the need for active supervision, proper storage and local fencing laws.

Anyone thinking about purchasing a portable pool should take a few minutes to check out the campaign website at www.productsafety.gov.au/makeitsafe for more information. If you spot a portable pool without a warning label you should report that to Consumer Protection by emailing consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or you can call 1300 304 054.

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