Know Your Consumer Rights

Category: Save Water

Have you ever dealt with a plumber that puts you on the spot and tries to upsell services? What you thought would be a basic plumbing job quickly becomes a commitment to a whole new plumbing system you're not sure you actually need? You're not alone. Unsolicited selling is on the rise and the good news is that Australian Consumer Law protects against this type of selling. You just need to know your consumer rights.

What Is Unsolicited Selling?

Consumer advocates and the media have been reporting a number of cases where unsolicited and door to door sales are resulting in consumers paying for services they never intended on purchasing. It's an all too familiar situation if you have experience with some less reputable tradespeople. While all you want fixed is a leaking toilet, your plumber may end up taking payment for jobs- like a new hot water system that they suggest to you when they arrive. It's becoming a bigger problem especially with vulnerable people often being targeted with these practices.

How Prevalent Is It?

A relatively recent Ipsos poll found that more than 80 per cent of Australians have a negative opinion of unsolicited selling. So how widespread is unsolicited selling, particularly when it comes to tradespeople? In recent years there has been a growth in door-to-door selling for construction work such as roofing, renewable energy and landscaping. Consumers need to understand their rights in order to protect themselves from being significantly out of pocket for services that they might not actually need and haven't had the chance to properly consider.

Are You Protected?

The Australian Consumer Law provides a set of national laws that cover door-to-door sales. You have rights under the Australian Consumer Law if a plumber approaches you uninvited at your doorstep, over the phone or in a public place. This includes having the right to ask the plumber to leave and receive certain information on the plumbing services to be received.

Most importantly consumers have 10 days to reconsider and cancel an "unsolicited consumer agreement" when the contract's total value is more than $100 or cannot be determined when the agreement is made. During this "cooling off period" no money is to change hands and no work to be carried out where the consumer has the right to terminate the agreement either orally or in writing, where the termination date is the date when the notice was given or sent by the consumer. For agreements negotiated over the phone, this 10-day period commences on the first business day after the consumer receives the agreement document. Where the agreement has not been negotiated over the phone, the 10-day cooling period starts on the first business day after the agreement was made.

Be Careful Who You Invite In

Where there are is a law, there are always tradespeople looking to step around the rules. Even though rules around door-to-door selling have been regulated nationally, protections do not apply if the agreement is 'solicited.' Some unscrupulous plumbers looking for a way to get around the tighter rules, will put pressure on clients to buy plumbing services after they are invited into their home by the client.

In WA, there has been a surge of complaints around plumbers that see every visit as an opportunity to upsell to the client on services they may not need to make bigger profit margins. While it's always important to be assertive with plumbers with what you want and don't want, the best way to mitigate against paying for services you don't want, is to make sure you do your research before you engage a plumber. Look for positive client testimonials from a broad range of clients and consider hiring a plumber from a large professional plumbing company as these companies have more to lose if their reputation is tarnished by unethical selling practices.

Don't get caught being put on the spot and pay for plumbing services you don't need or want. Laser Plumbing puts our client satisfaction first and lives by our core values of being honest, reliable and transparent about pricing and the services to be delivered. Contact us today for a "Totally dependable" plumbing service.