Peter Lawlor.
Peter Lawlor. AAP Image

Dodgy businesses in Rocky

ROCKHAMPTON has been revealed as a state hot spot for customer complaints against dodgy businesses.

The thousands of irate customers last year sparked a crackdown by the Office of Fair Trading and figures yesterday revealed 53 local businesses were issued with warnings.

This appears to make the Rockhampton region the highest in the state per capita and the fourth-highest across the state based on the total number of warnings.

Unearthed from the crackdown was a dodgy Rockhampton property agent, who was fined $2755 and disqualified from holding a real estate license after an investigation.

The OFT said he failed to keep his client properly informed, failed to pay trust monies immediately to a trust account and did not lodge an audit report.

The agent dealt with under the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act.

Rockhampton’s warnings follow Brisbane with 534, Gold Coast with 125 and Sunshine Coast with 82.

Of the 53 warnings issued to Rockhampton businesses, 21 were issued with infringement notices and two were taken to court and legal action taken against them.

The number of warnings issued to Mackay, Cairns, Toowoomba and Townsville businesses were all under 40.

The Office of Fair Trading works each year to protect consumer rights and ensure businesses do the right thing.

Fair Trading Minister Peter Lawlor said teams of investigators, inspectors and other staff from the OFT had a busy year handling complaints, undertaking proactive compliance and spot checks and gathering information on unethical trading activity.

“It’s also been a busy year educating and keeping local residents aware of consumer issues like dodgy door-to-door salesmen,” he said.

“Where it’s thought there were possible breaches of the Fair Trading Act 1989, OFT launched investigations and took appropriate legal action.”

Mr Lawlor said throughout the year OFT investigators conducted compliance checks on businesses on a range of issues including price scanning, product safety and security, real estate and motor dealer licence compliance.

A total of 15,165 complaints were received by the OFT from consumers in 2009 across the state.

Of these, almost 400 of them were from Rockhampton, with credit providers and personal goods topping the list.

Mr Lawlor said 2009 action included a statewide credit industry blitz in which dubious “payday lenders” from Beenleigh to Cairns were made to pay back in excess of a million dollars to more than 1680 customers who were charged excessive interest rates and fees.

“In the south-east this year a Browns Plains security provider had to pay $8000 for working unlicensed and a Doolandella man was fined $23,000 for selling cars without a licence,” he said.

“An Ipswich convenience store copped a $4000 fine for overcharging its products and a Brisbane northside shop was fined $3000 for selling dangerous toys.

“Numerous outcomes on the Gold Coast in 2009 included a car dealer who was busted and fined for winding back the odometer of a motor vehicle by tens of thousands of kilometres.”

Top complaints

Top 10 Rockhampton industry complaints

1. Consumer credit providers

118

2. Personal and household goods

93

3. Gambling, scams, schemes

32

4. Motor vehicles sales

27

5. Business services

26

6. Personal and household services

24

7. Real estate agents

19

8. Motor vehicle service, repairs, parts, accessories and wreckers

16

9. Accommodation, hotels, motels, holiday and short term

13

10. Personal and household good wholesaling

13



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