Spend A Penny – undertaking

John Farrugia, Mary Farrugia, Rosemarie Farrugia and David Farrugia trading as Spend A Penny have acknowledged that they breached section 106 and 136 of the Australian Consumer Law by supplying, offering for supply, manufacturing, possessing, or having control of consumer goods that do not comply with an applicable safety and information standard.

The partnership gave undertakings to the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs to rectify the breaches.

Signed undertaking (PDF 374KB)


Gym membership contracts

The Health and Fitness Industry Code protects consumers by making sure particular information is included in contracts. Details about the type and length of contract and the total cost must be included. Importantly, you should also be given warnings to cancel direct debits when your contract ends. Making sure these protections are in contracts were targeted in a recent audit of gyms by Consumer and Business Services (CBS) officers.

This educational based operation saw almost 20 independent and smaller gyms visited. CBS staff viewed current contracts and provided feedback about changes that would need to be made to be compliant with the code. Gyms were given a copy of the code for their reference. More gyms will be visited shortly to finalise this audit.

Gym membership agreements can end up costing consumers dearly if a gym closes down. The Health and Fitness Industry Code minimises potential losses by making contracts transparent and limits the length of an agreement to 12 months. Check your contract to make sure it includes information about when the contract will end, how much it’ll cost and how to cancel any direct debits.

 


Building site audits

More than 100 licences were checked at three construction sites around Adelaide recently. CBS investigators will further investigate potential breaches identified and take further action where appropriate. Officers also provided advice about CBS’ role and licensing laws under the Building Work Contractors Act 1995 and the Plumbing Gas Fitters and Electricians Act 1995.

Consumer and Business Services (CBS) has recently released the Compliance and Enforcement Policy 2018-2019 which like previous policies, has a focus on the building industry. As a result, CBS officers complete monthly inspections of building sites and carries out on-site audits with the Office of the Technical Regulator.

CBS will continue to monitor the building industry as a key priority area and will focus on:

  • individuals or companies performing unlicensed building work, including operating outside of licence conditions with particular attention on commercial, industrial and residential projects, including homebuilding, renovation and landscaping services requiring licensed building work
  • individuals or building work contractors who fail to take out building indemnity insurance when carrying out building work costing $12,000 or more that requires council approval
  • individuals or companies who take an excessive deposit from consumers
  • builders who take payment from consumers but do not complete the work

Report an individual tradie or business who you know is operating without a licence or outside of their licence conditions.


Gift cards – proposed changes

The Fair Trading (Gift Cards) Amendment Bill 2018 was introduced into Parliament on 16 May 2018 and aims to make gift cards more consumer friendly by providing greater flexibility and certainty for consumers who are often confused by varying rules in relation to gift card expiry dates.

The Bill reduces the detriment caused to consumers when they are forced to redeem gift cards and make purchases that they otherwise might not, simply because of a looming expiry date. It also reduces the financial loss experienced by consumers who do not redeem their gift cards at all, simply because they have been unable to find something that they wish to purchase within the period of time that the gift card is valid.

The Bill eases the pressure placed on consumers by increasing the period of time in which they have to redeem their vouchers, ensuring that they get what they’ve paid for and are more likely to make purchases that they can benefit from.

Gift cards sold in South Australia (SA) will be required to have a minimum expiry period of 3 years. However, the requirements will not apply to gift cards purchased online or over the phone where the gift card is to be delivered to the consumer at an address outside of SA or where the contact details of the consumer provided in connection with the sale of the gift card includes a residential address outside of SA.

Targeted consultation will be undertaken to prescribe categories of gift cards that will be exempt from the new provisions, for example, temporary marketing promotions or vouchers supplied for charitable purposes.

The Fair Trading (Gift Cards) Amendment Bill 2018 is available at www.legislation.sa.gov.au

 


Unlicensed real estate agent agrees to additional training – assurance

A real estate agent who allegedly acted as a sales representative for a land agent while unlicensed has agreed to commence further training as part of an enforceable undertaking he has entered into with South Australia’s consumer watchdog.

Marc Olsen’s sales representative licence was cancelled in February 2017, after he failed to renew it.

An investigation by Consumer and Business Services revealed he was allegedly still entering into sales agency agreements with vendors on behalf of another land agent.

Following that investigation, Mr Olsen entered into an enforceable undertaking with the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, agreeing to cease acting as a sales representative without a current licence and undertake three units that form part of the Certificate IV in Property Services within 12 months of entering into the undertaking.

Consumer and Business Services may use written undertakings in place of court-based enforcement action.

This does not rule out further action, such as prosecution, if the terms of the agreement are not met.

Signed assurance (PDF 109KB)


CBS – educating local hairdressers and barbers

Consumer and Business Services officers were recently visiting salons talking with hairdressers and barbers about the qualifications needed to work in South Australia.

“Our goal this time was to raise awareness and make sure business owners and staff both know what qualifications are needed to work in South Australia.”

CBS officers randomly chose hairdressing and barber businesses in metropolitan Adelaide. They talked with the business owners about the need to check qualifications when hiring and to make sure their own qualifications were valid.

“The response was really positive” said compliance officers. “People were working and busy, so most of the time it was a quick visit and stayed only if people had questions.”

Officers were asked about overseas qualifications and the need for them to be recognised in South Australia. Other topics included the business owner’s responsibility to check staff qualifications before hiring and some general questions about complying with the law.

Officers noted a high level of compliance among South Australian hairdressers and barbers. “There seemed to be a lot of pride in having and improving professional skills. This showed in the types of questions people asked and the information we were able to share,” said compliance officer Naomi Janes

CBS will continue to work with the hairdressing industry. We share the industry’s focus on professional, skilled people so consumers can expect not only a high level of service but a high level of skills when visiting South Australian businesses.

If someone was not appropriately qualified, we would apply a risk based regulatory approach looking at level of penalty, duration of conduct and repeat offenders, consumer detriment v’s industry detriment, public interest and level of profit from the conduct etc.

In South Australia, hairdressers and barbers must be qualified. Employers also have a responsibility to make sure their staff are qualified with a certificate III in hairdressing or barbering. Older or overseas qualifications and experience may also be recognised. Penalties apply to both employers and employees if hairdressing or barbering services are provided without qualifications.


Changes for justices of the peace

Justices of the peace laws have recently changed. These important changes are summarised below:

  • Appointments – can now be made by the Attorney General or a delegate. Previously only the Governor appointed justices of the peace
  • Delegations – the Attorney General may now delegate a function or power to the Comissioner for Consumer Affairs
  • Oath – a justice must take the oath within 3 months of an appointment and does not have to take the oath again if reappointed
  • Suspension – the Attorney General or a delegate may suspend a justice of the peace for up to 2 years if there a reasonable personal reasons. On or before the suspension expires, a justice must notify whether the justice is planning on returning to South Australia before the suspension expires
  • Disciplinary action – a justice of the peace may be reprimanded, have a condition added or suspended if there is a breach of condition of employment or code of conduct. If charged with particular offences, the Attorney General may remove a justice (not special justice) from office
  • False or misleading statement – it is now illegal to make a false or misleading statement in information provided
  • Retired justices – must not use the the desciption of ‘JP (retired)’ for advancing business or commercial interests

Code of conduct changes

A justice of the peace must not:

  • accept money or any other gifts or rewards in connection with their duties
  • excercise power when there is a personal, family, financial or business interest
  • divulge confidential information unless required by law
  • use the office or title to gain business, commerical or personal benefit (some exceptions apply)
  • act dishonestly or act in a way that brings the office into disrepute

Notices

  • A justice must write to the Attorney General, or delegate, within 14 days of any dishonestly rulings found against them
  • A special justice must write to the Chief Magistrate or Judge of the Youth Court within 14 days of any dishonestly rulings found against them

A full list of all changes for Justices of the Peace (PDF 418KB)


Applications open soon for labour hire licences – media release

Consumer and Business Services is urging labour hire companies to make sure they apply for a licence by the start of August, ahead of the mandatory licensing system for the sector that comes into effect in September.

Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Dini Soulio said that from September 1, any business that supplies workers to another person and pays the worker (either to cover wages or a part payment) will need to be licensed.

Applications open soon for labour hire licences – media release


Industry warned of potential for criminal law breaches – statement

A real estate agent who allegedly contravened property rules has acknowledged the breach likely occurred. He has provided an assurance that he will not repeat his actions.

The assurance provided by M&G Property Group Pty Ltd trading as Elders Mawson Lakes and its director, Mr Domenico Mastrogiacomo for two contraventions are a timely warning to the real estate industry.

Read the full statement – Industry warned of potential for criminal law breaches (PDF 102KB)

Signed assurance