Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie
Watch Out For Conmen Offering Flood Repairs
Victor P Taffa
Flood-affected Queenslanders are being warned to lookout for travelling conmen hoping to cash-in on their misfortune as they attempt to rebuild after the recent natural disaster.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the need for urgent repair work following a natural disaster removed some consumer protection rules, including 10 day cooling-off periods.
“In usual circumstances a cooling-off period means a person can cancel a contract at any stage and traders can’t accept payments or deposits until the period expires.” Mr. Bleijie said.
“In extraordinary circumstances such as those we have seen over the past week, these cooling off periods can be a hindrance to suffering Queenslanders, rather than a help.”
“These changes mean repair and recovery can start immediately which is particularly important for families who do not have a roof over their heads.”
“Structural repairs and tree removals need to be done urgently so relaxed rules apply for this type of work.”
“Travelling conmen follow closely in the wake of disasters, hoping to profit from tragedy and exploit tragic situations when communities are at their most vulnerable.”
“These shonky traders generally perform substandard work or leave without completing the job and it is often impossible to contact them if something goes wrong with the repair.”
The amended consumer rules only apply when the following three criteria are met:
- The area has been included in the Commonwealth/ State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA)
- The repairs are in response to rectifying or preventing substantial damage to the property
- The trader holds a relevant building or contractor licence.
Mr. Bleijie said it was important people asked to see a Queensland Building Services Authority licence and proof of a business address before repair work commences.
“If a trader doesn’t have a fixed business address, or says their offer is one day only, alarm bells should start ringing.” Mr. Bleijie said.
“Before agreeing to have emergency repairs completed, you should contact your insurer for information and advice and also ask references from other locals who have used them.”
“Never pay for anything upfront, not even materials.”
Mr. Bleijie added residents in areas not covered by the NDDRA relief arrangements should be aware of the protections available to them under ordinary door-to-door provisions.
To check if your area is included in the Commonwealth/ State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) visit www.qldreconstruction.org.au/
To report suspicious business activity to the Office of Fair Trading, visit www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).