Consumer Services Act
The Consumer Services Act applies when a business performs a service for you. The law is non-optional to your benefit. In other words, a business may not offer you poorer terms than the law stipulates.
Areas of applicability
- Service on moveable property. For example, repair of a car or television set.
- Service on real property, buildings or other facilities on land or sea, or on other stationary objects. For example, house renovation or painting.
- Storage of moveable property. For example, storage of furniture or a boat.
Areas of non-applicability
- Handling people or live animals. For example, a hairdresser or veterinarian.
- Manufacturing products.
- Selling products. For example, a household appliance that the seller assembles or installs at the time of purchase.
- Work that a business performs to correct a defect in a product or piece of property that has been sold.
- Transportation and shipping. For example, moving furniture.
- Independent consulting. For example, a blueprint by an architect.
What demands can you make?
The business must
- Make sure that the service personnel have the proper expertise and necessary training.
- Perform the service in a professional manner. In other words, do the work in a way that is normally expected of an expert.
- Look after your interests and consult with you in order to avoid misunderstanding.
- Supply the necessary material unless you have agreed otherwise.
- See to it that the service is not performed in a manner that violates safety regulations or the prohibitions specified in the Product Safety Act or Marketing Act.
- Notify you if additional work is required.
- Advise you not to purchase the service if it does not offer a reasonable amount of benefit.
A service is defective if
- It is not professionally performed.
- The business has not performed it in accordance with applicable safety regulations.
- It differs from what you and the seller agreed to.
- It is performed in violation of prohibitions in the Product Safety Act.
- The business has not performed the additional work required to avoid serious damage.
- The results differ from information that appears in marketing materials issued by or on behalf of the business.
If you feel that a service is defective, you can file a complaint. Notify the business when you discover the defect. You must file a complaint within a reasonable period of time. Two months is always regarded as reasonable. You cannot file a complaint about a defect that you discover more than three years after the service was completed. If the service was performed on land, buildings or other stationary objects, you can file a complaint about a defect within ten years.
If you discover a defective service, you can
- Hold back payment. Hold back as much of the payment as is required to serve as security for your demand.
- Demand that the defect be corrected. Normally it will not cost you anything extra.
- Demand a discount. The discount is to be based on how much it cost you to have the defect corrected.
- Cancel the agreement. This is possible if the service did not accomplish its purpose and the business should have realised it. For instance, if the service is not completed by the date you have agreed to and the business knows that it seriously impacts your life.
- Demand damages. Normally you are entitled to compensation for any damage that the defect has caused. For instance, a roof may have been repaired improperly such that rain leaks into your house and ruins your possessions.
If the business does not complete the work by the date that you have agreed to and it is not your fault, you have the right to hold back payment. You can decide whether you want the company to perform the work or cancel the agreement. You can also demand damages.
How much do you have to pay?
- You must pay the price that you and the business agreed to. If you do not have an agreement, you must pay a reasonable price. Generally speaking, a price is reasonable if it is what the service normally costs.
- If the business quoted an approximate price, you do not have to pay more than an additional 15%.
- The seller is entitled to charge more after having performed necessary additional work or if the service was more expensive due to circumstances that were your fault. The basic rule is that the seller must always consult with you before performing additional work.
You are entitled to receive an itemized invoice that shows how much work has been done and what it involved. If you are not paying a fixed price, the invoice should specify how it was calculated.
If you cancel a service before it is completed, the business is entitled to compensation for what it has already done. The seller also has right to compensation for income it lost because it could not work on another project.
If you do not pay on time
If you do not pay on time, the seller can suspend work on the project until you do. The seller is also entitled to compensation for any losses it has incurred. If work has begun, the seller must finish as much as is required to eliminate the risk of serious damage. If you have turned a product over to the seller, for example a chair to be repainted, you cannot demand it back until you have paid.
What happens if the business does not follow the law?
If you and the business cannot reach agreement, file a report with the National Board for Consumer Disputes (ARN), which will examine the dispute free of charge. It is a good idea to save receipts, e-mail correspondence and other evidence. An ordinary court of law can also hear the dispute, but you will have to pay a petition fee and possibly legal expenses as well.
Klagoguiden to the rescue
Klagoguiden is a simple online tool to help you file a complaint about a product or service.
Go to Klagoguiden
- Proofread 10 April 2018