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 one or more of these guarantees are not met, you are entitled to a 'remedy' - that is, the business has 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.
A business guarantees that their services are provided with due care and skill. This means they 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.
A business guarantees that their services will achieve the desired results that the consumer told the business 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:
- you did not rely on the business's skill or judgment in agreeing to particular services
- the services were professional services provided by a qualified architect or engineer.
A business guarantees to supply the service 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 11/04/2013