Locals received more than $260,000 in refunds, repairs, replacements and other compensation with the help of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in 2018.
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the OFT finalised 642 complaints from consumers in the Cairns region, which includes far-north Queensland, Normanton and Weipa.
“Consumers in this region complained most about personal and household goods, followed by motor vehicle sales, then personal and household services,” he said.
“Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumer goods must be of acceptable quality, match the description provided by the seller, and be fit for their intended purpose.
“The OFT continues to work proactively with traders to ensure they understand their responsibilities to consumers.”
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said used motor dealers operated in a regulated industry, and sellers of second-hand motor vehicles needed to apply to the OFT to be licensed or registered.
“The OFT engages closely with the motor industry and conducts spot checks on motor dealers to make sure they are complying with legislation,” she said.
“Services, such as appliance repairs and hairdressing, must be provided with due care and skill and completed within a reasonable or agreed timeframe.
“Consumer protection legislation gives the OFT the power to pursue some complaints all the way to court, but the OFT can not make a judgment or order on consumer complaints. Only a tribunal or court has the power to do this.”
Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said in these cases, the OFT undertook a conciliation process – a free informal service where OFT officers act as an intermediary between the consumer and the trader, explaining to both what their rights and responsibilities under the legislation.
“The OFT’s Cairns office achieved $264,267 in redress, including refunds, repairs, replacements and other compensation in 2018,” he said
“For example, a Gordonvale resident complained to the OFT after an optometrist sold him glasses that caused him blurred vision. The complainant had raised the issue with the optometrist, but had not been offered a remedy.
“Due to conciliation by the OFT, the optometrist provided the complainant with replacement glasses worth $698.”
Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said the first thing consumers should do if they had a problem with goods or services is talk to the trader directly.
“Usually, customer satisfaction is very important to businesses, and most will be happy to work with you to resolve your complaint,” he said.
“However, if you are unsuccessful in getting the trader to help you, you can lodge a formal complaint with the OFT.”
For more information on consumer rights, or to lodge a complaint, visit www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.
Most complained about industries in 2018 for complainants in the Cairns area
Complaints finalised for consumers of this region: 642
Redress obtained by OFT’s Cairns office: $264,267
Top 5 industries complained about by these consumers:
1. Personal & household goods
2. Motor vehicle sales
3. Personal & household services
4. Motor vehicle repairs, servicing
5. Real estate agents
**the redress figures provided are those obtained by each OFT region, they do not perfectly align with the individual complaint numbers as some matters may be handled by another OFT office for operational reasons and because some matters for which redress was obtained may have originated from information received rather than consumer complaints.