Consumer guarantees your services must meet
The law automatically gives consumers rights when they buy goods and services from you. These are called consumer guarantees.
There are 3 consumer guarantees that apply to any services purchased from businesses in Queensland.
Consumer guarantees for services apply to:
- anything that costs $40,000 or less
- anything for personal or household use, regardless of price.
Consumer guarantees for services do not apply to:
- services bought before 1 January 2011 (these are covered under previous laws)
- services the consumer would normally use for business and cost over $40,000
- transport or storage for work-related goods
- insurance contracts.
A consumer can seek a remedy if they buy something that doesn't meet these guarantees. This means you must fix the fault. This might be a refund, a repeat service or compensation for the reduced value of the service.
The following clip from Australian Consumer Law explains the consumer guarantees that apply to services.
Due care and skill
You guarantee you provide your services with due care and skill. This means that you must:
- take care to avoid loss or damage
- meet a level of professional skill or knowledge.
A consumer hires a painter to paint her house. The painter does not remove all of the old, flaking paint before applying the new paint. The new paint starts to flake after 6 months. The painter has not shown the due care and skill guarantee and the consumer is entitled to a remedy.
Fit for a specific purpose
You guarantee that your services will achieve the results the consumer wants. The consumer will need to outline these expectations before you start the job.
A homeowner hires a carpenter to build a carport for his car, which he explains is to be 2m wide. The carpenter builds a carport that is only 1.8m wide and does not fully cover the car. The carpenter has not met this guarantee and the homeowner is entitled to a remedy.
A sports fan buys a pay TV subscription so that she can watch an upcoming football game. She tells the sales representative that she is buying the subscription to watch the game. On the day of the match, she realises that it’s on a different channel that she doesn’t have access to. The pay TV company have not met their guarantee, and the sports fan is entitled to a remedy.
A young man goes to the barber and gets a permanent hair colouring. The barber applies the colour and warns the young man not to wash his hair for 24 hours. The young man follows this instruction, but the colour runs from his hair during his shower a few days later. The barber hasn’t met this guarantee, and the young man is entitled to a remedy.
This guarantee does not apply when:
- you say you service is unlikely to achieve the consumer’s intended result, but they decide to hire you anyway
- you are a qualified architect or engineer.
Finished in a reasonable time
You guarantee to supply your services:
- at the agreed time (or reasonably close to that time)
- within a ‘reasonable’ time (if your contract did not set a time).
A 'reasonable' time will depend on what type of service you offer. For example, the time needed for building a house is longer than for lopping a tree.
However, most contracts should set out when work will start and end. We recommend that you include these in your contract.