Posted by NSW Finance, Services & Innovation
on 9 January 2019
Commissioner for Fair Trading Rose Webb has today issued a warning that storms which cause significant damage are often followed by scammers who try to take advantage of vulnerable consumers.
Ms Webb said there are ways consumers can protect themselves when looking to hire tradespeople or contractors to fix damages caused by severe weather.
"Following the recent destructive storms across NSW, consumers are reminded that anyone who undertakes specialised work to fix damages such as smashed windows, battered roofs or cars is required to have a valid licence or tradesperson certificate," Ms Webb said.
Fair Trading offers an online tool on its website where consumers can verify licence details and check whether a contractor or tradesperson is qualified to do the job. Consumers are urged to do these checks before approving traders to commence work.
When choosing a tradesperson or contractor, Fair Trading advises consumers to:
Get two or more written quotes for the job;
Ask the trader for references and examples of past work;
Avoid payments without a written contract;
Avoid traders who charge significant deposits;
"Consumers should avoid cash transactions if possible as credit card payments are a better option as chargebacks from banks may be available and it's also a good idea to ask family for a recommendation rather than choosing a trader from an advertisement," Ms Webb said.
"Also avoid workers who simply show up without contact to offer their services and consumers should also check with their insurance provider before authorising any building or vehicle repairs.
"For those with damaged solar panels, there are electrical hazards with solar panels that may be affected by hail damage or falling trees. When in doubt about the solar installation, contact the installer or get the advice of a licensed electrician. Do not investigate or attempt to fix it yourself."
Anyone who has had problems in their dealing with tradespeople or contractors, should contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20 to lodge a written complaint online at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au