Under the Australian Consumer Law, certain consumer guarantees apply automatically, including that a service will be provided within a reasonable time, if no time is set by the contract or agreement for the supply of services.
If it is not provided within a reasonable time, the consumer is entitled to a remedy. The type of remedy depends on whether the problem is major or minor.
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.
It is a major problem if the consumer would never have bought the service had they known about how long it would take.
Remedies for major problems
When there is a major problem with a service, the consumer can choose to:
- cancel the contract and pay a reasonable amount for the work done, or seek a partial refund of money already paid, or
- keep the contract and negotiate a reduced price for the drop in value of the service —this may mean asking for some money back if the consumer has already paid.
If a problem is not major, the consumer must give the business a chance to fix the problem.
Remedies for minor problems
The consumer can require the business to fix the problem.
If the business refuses to fix the problem or takes too long, the consumer may:
- get it fixed by someone else and recover the costs, or
- cancel the contract and pay a reasonable amount for the work done, or seek a partial refund of money already paid.
When this guarantee does not apply
A consumer is not entitled to a remedy when a supplier does not meet this consumer guarantee due to something:
- someone else said, did, or failed to do (excluding the supplier’s agent or employee), or
- beyond human control that happened after the goods or services were supplied.
This guarantee does not apply to insurance contracts.
If there is a problem with a service, or if you are having a dispute with the supplier, view our Resolve your problem or complaint section.
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