A Port Kennedy mechanic has been ordered to pay nearly $50,000 in fines, compensation and costs after accepting payments from consumers but failing to complete the work. The case highlights the importance of being cautious when paying for expensive work upfront.
Christopher Adam Hall, former Director of 5XH Logistics Pty Ltd (deregistered) formerly trading as The Barra Shed in Rockingham, was fined $15,000 for breaching the Australian Consumer Law and ordered to pay costs of $2047.30 as well as $31,445.29 in compensation to three consumers.
Between May 2019 and June 2020, Mr Hall accepted payments totalling $47,691.25 from three vehicle owners for mechanical work. This included a Waikiki customer who paid nearly $14,000 for an engine swap on a four-wheel-drive. However, after 17 months, the customer received the vehicle and found that only limited work had been carried out, and it was not roadworthy. The customer then had to pay a further $15,000 to another mechanic to get the car back onto the road.
Two separate customers from Bassendean were also caught out. They both paid for engine conversions on their four-wheel-drives totalling $20,854 and $17,341 respectively. However, after six months, the customers collected their vehicles to find little work had been done on them, and both could not be driven.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Trish Blake said that consumers should only pay a small deposit upfront for expensive work like engine conversions, and consider negotiating progress payments once stages of work have been confirmed to be completed. Paying large deposits or the full amount upfront leaves consumers vulnerable, especially in these circumstances where the work is not carried out in a reasonable time, with customers out of pocket and without a functioning vehicle.
As well as being illegal, it is a serious betrayal of trust for Mr Hall to accept payments from his customers and then do very little work in return. It is totally unacceptable that they were then placed in a position of having to spend more money to make the vehicles roadworthy.
The importance of cautious spending is not limited to vehicle repairs. Consumers should always exercise due diligence when entering into agreements with service providers or making purchases, especially when dealing with large sums of money. Complaints against motor vehicle repairers can be lodged on the Consumer Protection website. Enquiries can be made by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1300 30 40 54.