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OFT issues public warning against The GrassFather

The Commissioner for Fair Trading is warning consumers to avoid dealing with Ryan Hewson and his landscaping business The GrassFather Pty Ltd.

Mr Hewson is currently operating in South East Queensland, targeting those living on the Gold Coast and surrounding areas, purporting to supply landscaping services.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) recently prosecuted Mr Hewson and GrassFather Pty Ltd after a consumer paid $11,500 for landscaping services that were never received.

Further complaints have been received by the OFT from other consumers who have paid The GrassFather for landscaping services. No work has been completed by Mr Hewson and no refunds have been received by the consumers. Mr Hewson has also failed to respond to consumers enquiries about the services he is supposed to be providing them.

Fair Trading Commissioner Victoria Thomson said this was a classic case of a trader over promising and under delivering with the consumer left paying the price.

“Despite providing consumers with quotes for work and agreeing to a commencement date, Mr Hewson repeatedly fails to show up, gives multiple excuses as to why he is unable to begin work, then ceases all communication,” Ms Thomson said.

“There are particular concerns this trader is now targeting consumers from non-English speaking backgrounds and is requesting large deposits be paid upfront.

“I urge consumers considering landscaping work to avoid using the services of this trader.”

The company operates under the registered name The GrassFather Pty Ltd, A.C.N 634 455 486, A.B.N 17634455486. The sole director is Mr Ryan Hewson.

Mr Hewson and The GrassFather were ordered to pay more than $40,000 in fines and compensation in Southport the Magistrates Court on 9 May 2022.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) has suspended the corporation licence of The GrassFather Pty Ltd.

Ms Thomson said this situation is a reminder to consumers that they should not pay large amounts of money upfront.

“Requests for large upfront payments are a red flag. Consumers should pay a small initial deposit, then incremental amounts as the work progresses, with the remainder on completion,” she said.

The QBCC advise that generally the maximum deposit a contractor should request is:

  • 5% deposit—for work that costs $20,000 or more
  • 10% deposit—for work where the price is between $3,300 and $19,999
  • 20% deposit — for work priced at $3,300 or less
  • Exception – a 20% deposit is acceptable where more than half the value of the work is to be performed offsite

When any type of construction is involved check whether the trader has a licence with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. The search is available free online at www.qbcc.qld.gov.au.

Consumers should always do some background research into a trader. Ask family and friends for recommendations if you need work done and ask your shortlisted traders for examples of their work that you can visit and view and discuss with the owners.

To lodge a consumer complaint against The GrassFather Pty Ltd or Ryan Hewson, or to see a full list of the OFT’s public warnings visit www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.