There are three guarantees that apply to services. These are:
- That services are provided with due care and skill.
- That services will be fit for their specified purpose.
- That services will be completed within a reasonable time (when no time is set).
If services you supply fail to meet one or more of these guarantees, you will need to provide a 'remedy' to the consumer - that is, will need to put right the fault, deficiency or failure. Depending on the circumstances, this may take the form of a refund, repeat service or compensation equivalent to the drop in value of the service.
The following clip, which is part of our film on the Australian Consumer Law, explains the consumer guarantees that apply to services.
1. Due care and skill
You guarantee that your services are provided with due care and skill. This means that you must:
- use an acceptable level of skill or technical knowledge when providing the services
- take all necessary care to avoid loss or damage when providing the services.
A consumer hires a painter to paint her house. Before starting the job, the painter does not remove all of the old, flaking paint. Six months later, the new paint starts to flake. The painter has not met the due care and skill guarantee and the consumer would be entitled to a remedy.
2. Fit for purpose
You guarantee that your services will achieve the desired results that the consumer told you about.
A consumer asks a carpenter to build a carport to cover his 4WD vehicle, which is two metres wide. If the carpenter builds a 1.8m-wide carport that does not cover the car, the carpenter will not have met the fit for purpose guarantee and the consumer would be entitled to a remedy.
A consumer asks a handyman to fix double gates at the entrance to his driveway. The gates are poorly aligned and make a loud metal scraping noise when opened. The consumer tells the handyman that he wants to stop the noise. The handyman realigns the gates but in less than two days the problem returns. The handyman will have to fix the problem free of charge, as the service did not achieve the desired result.
The fit for purpose guarantee does not apply if:
- the consumer did not rely on your skill or judgment in agreeing to particular services
- the services were professional services provided by a qualified architect or engineer.
3. Supply within a reasonable time
You guarantee that your services will be supplied within a reasonable time if no time has been set.
However, a contract or agreement for the supply of services usually states when the services will be provided and the date they will be completed.
What is ´reasonable´ will depend on the nature of the services. For example, the time needed to build a house will be longer than the time required to lop a tree.
Last reviewed 01/12/2011