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Mellor, Mellor on the wall – designer fined for not providing at all

16 February 2018

A Brisbane interior designer was ordered to pay more than $14,250 in fines and restitution by the Brisbane Magistrates Court today (16 February 2018) after being charged by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for breaching the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Stephen Joseph Mellor, owner of The Collective Design Group, Roomahazit and Sixth Element Design in Camp Hill, pleaded guilty to two charges of accepting payments for interior design services which he failed to provide.

Mr Mellor, who did not appear in court, was fined $12,500, ordered to return $1,750 to two affected consumers and pay court costs of $96. A conviction was recorded for both charges and the court also ordered Mr Mellor serve a term of imprisonment of seventeen days if the restitution was not paid within six months.

The OFT initiated an investigation into Mr Mellor after receiving complaints from two consumers.

The court heard that, between June 2015 and August 2016, Mr Mellor accepted payment to perform interior design work for two consumers, totalling $1,750. Mr Mellor failed to provide either consumer with agreed concept plans or the work itself. Both consumers made numerous attempts to contact the interior designer, who provided limited responses and failed to issue refunds.

In sentencing, the court considered that Mr Mellor’s conduct included failing to engage with the OFT.

Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Craig Turner said the outcome was a positive one for the consumers who had been left out of pocket by the unscrupulous businessman.

"Traders must not accept payment for goods or services that they know they cannot supply within the represented time or a reasonable time, it’s as simple as that,” Mr Turner said.

"To protect themselves, consumers should avoid large upfront payments for goods or services, keep a record of all payments and deposits made, request receipts, agree to firm delivery dates and follow-up immediately if these are not met.

“If a trader insists on a large payment up-front for goods or services rather than a reasonable deposit, consider taking your business elsewhere.”

If consumers have paid for goods or services they have not received, they are encouraged to make a complaint to the OFT either online at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).