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Concrete evidence of unfinished work results in $7,000 fine

10 April 2019

A Redland Bay trader was fined $7,000 in the Cleveland Magistrates Court yesterday (9 April 2019) after charges were brought by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Jacob Anthony Moratti pleaded guilty to one count of failing to supply services within a reasonable time under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Mr Moratti was fined $7,000 and ordered to pay a total of $2,450 to an affected consumer.

The OFT commenced an investigation after a report was received from a consumer who paid Mr Moratti to concrete the driveway of their rental property.

The court heard that between 11 February 2018 and 15 February 2018 the affected consumer deposited a total of $2,600 into Mr Moratti’s bank account on the promise that Mr Moratti would prepare the driveway and purchase the concrete.

Mr Moratti dug up the site on 16 February 2018, however the concrete was never poured as per the initial agreement. A delivery of concrete was ordered and cancelled a total of nine times by Mr Moratti.

The affected consumer requested a full refund from Mr Moratti on two occasions. Mr Moratti failed to provide a full refund or complete the agreed work, leaving the driveway incomplete and the consumer unable to rent out the property for an extended period.

In sentencing, Magistrate Vasta noted the penalty would deter Mr Moratti and satisfy consumer law. Magistrate Vasta took into consideration Mr Moratti's early guilty plea and that Mr Moratti had spent close to $2,000 in preparation work although he admitted he did not complete the driveway.

Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Craig Turner said it was illegal for a trader to accept payment for a service and fail to supply it under the ACL.

“Traders must comply with the law,” Mr Turner said.

“Consumers are encouraged to do their homework and only use reputable traders to avoid disappointment.”

The OFT encourages consumers who have paid for goods or services but have not received them to approach the trader for a refund in the first instance. If they are unsuccessful, they should lodge a complaint online at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.