$2500 from a customer and failed to undertake any work has been ordered to refund the money and pay a further $5000 in fines and costs, following a prosecution by Consumer Protection.
Massimo Marcello Mario Douchamps, trading as M Renovations, pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to breaching the Australian Consumer Law when he received a $2,535 deposit from a customer in The Vines in November 2020 and did not deliver the goods and services.
The customer was quoted $5,070 by Mr Douchamps to supply and install pavers in the back garden and for a side gate to be fitted. But after taking the 50 per cent deposit and agreeing to undertake the work within the next few weeks, Mr Douchamps stopped responding to the customer’s messages and never returned.
Mr Douchamps was ordered by the court to compensate the customer for the deposit, along with a $4000 fine and costs of $1000, with Magistrate Heath commenting on the need to enforce provisions of this kind that are designed to protect consumers.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Tim Banfield said it was unacceptable for tradespeople to take deposits without completing the work.
“Let this be a warning for other tradespeople – you are breaking the law if you take money from customers and don’t undertake the work in a reasonable time, or by the completion date listed on the contract, and we will not hesitate to take action,” Mr Banfield said.
“It’s also a reminder for consumers about the risks that can come with paying large deposits upfront. That’s why we recommend only paying a small amount before work begins or negotiating progress payments on bigger jobs.
“Paying by credit card can be a good option, as it offers extra protection by allowing consumers to apply for a chargeback if the goods or services are not provided.
“Consumers who have paid a deposit and experienced unreasonable delays in the delivery of goods or services and have failed to resolve the issue with the business are advised to lodge a complaint with Consumer Protection.”
Complaints can be lodged on the Consumer Protection website, by email con email@example.com or calling 1300 30 40 54.