Not-so easy build for consumers
14 March 2017
A Gold Coast man has been ordered to pay more than $37,000 in fines and restitution by the Southport Magistrates Court (13 March 2017), following an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation.
Simon Richard Johnston, owner of Easy Building systems, was found guilty on four counts of failing to supply services under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), fined $13,000 and ordered to repay $24,852.97 to three affected consumers.
Mr Johnston did not appear in Court, with the matter heard in his absence. A conviction was recorded.
The Court heard Mr Johnston entered into agreements to supply storage sheds, a single bay garage, and a carport, totalling $38,089.12. Each consumer agreed to specific installation dates, none of which Mr Johnston met.
The court further heard Mr Johnston had failed to provide the refund ordered by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to one of the affected consumers.
The Court considered Mr Johnston’s lack of cooperation during the OFT’s investigation, as well as his refusal to deal with the affected consumers in the first instance.
Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said the result was a reminder to traders of their legal obligations under the ACL.
“The OFT will continue to prosecute unscrupulous businesses who engage in this type of conduct, to ensure consumers are protected,” Mr Bauer said.
“Reliable traders will be willing to accept deposits for expensive goods or services, so consumers should always be wary when a trader makes demands for significant up-front payments.
“It is important that, if a trader does fail to provide goods or service paid for, consumers make a complaint to the OFT as soon as issues arise.”
Complaints to the OFT can be made online at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading, and advice is available by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).