Company Fined $106,575 for Consumer Protection Law Increases
The penalty handed to a Victorian company for several breaches of South Australia’s consumer protection laws should serve as a warning to all traders to ensure they’re aware of, and operate within, the law.
In the Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday, Green Engineering (Vic) Pty Ltd was fined $106,575 for breaches of both State and national consumer law.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Robert Templeton welcomed the penalty, saying it sends a clear message to businesses operating in South Australia.
“Consumer and Business Services had received numerous complaints about Green Engineering (Vic) Pty Ltd, resulting in last year’s public warning notice against them,” he said.
The company has now pleaded guilty to ten charges, including breaches of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), the Fair Trading Act 1987 and the Plumbers, Gas Fitters and Electricians Act 1995.
The Victorian company admitted to failing to inform customers of their cooling off rights for unsolicited sales, failing to attend compulsory conciliation conferences and contracting for electrical work while unlicensed in South Australia.
Three counts related to door to door sales in regional South Australia.
“Under Australian consumer laws, these sales are referred to as unsolicited sales,” Mr Templeton said.
“Representatives of the business did not tell customers of their right to a 10-day cooling off period, a mandated protection for consumers.”
A representative of the business also failed to attend a series of compulsory conciliation conferences, arranged by CBS in an attempt to resolve complaints customers had made against Green Engineering (Vic) Pty Ltd.
“By ignoring their legal obligations to attend conciliation conferences, this company has shown contempt for both their customers and the law,” Mr Templeton said.
The court also heard that, between September 2013 and August 2015, Green Engineering (Vic) Pty Ltd installed photovoltaic solar panels at South Australian homes, whilst they were not licensed to do so, although registered electricians were engaged to perform the electrical work.
“These protections – and our licensing system – are in place to help protect consumers and give them greater confidence in the services they buy,” Mr Templeton said.
“This penalty should serve as a clear warning to contractors to play by the rules, or be ready to face the consequences.”
Consumers can report concerns about suspected unlicensed builders and tradespeople by contacting CBS on 131 882 or visit www.cbs.sa.gov.au