Office of Fair Trading puts more than $10 million back in Queenslanders’ pockets

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

Following more than 18,500 consumer complaints last year, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has successfully returned $10.6 million to Queensland consumers in 2021.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said the OFT has received record levels of complaints since the start of the global pandemic in 2020.

“We know the past two years have been extremely tough for Queenslanders with many experiencing cancellations to holiday bookings and flights,” Minister Fentiman said.

“COVID-19 also saw Queenslanders spending more time at home, resulting in an increase in people buying new furniture and whitegoods, as well as engaging more tradespeople to undertake renovations at home.

“This has seen the OFT receive 18,521 consumer complaints in 2021 and 18,698 in 2020, well above the average of around 15,000 per year received in the five years before Covid-19.

“It’s great to see the OFT has successfully put more than $10.6 million back into the pockets of Queenslanders.”

The Attorney-General said it was good to see complaints relating to travel, which had soared in 2020, had dropped in 2021.

“In 2020 there were more than 1,600 complaints received in relation to travel however in 2021 that had more than halved to 747,” she said.

“The topmost complaints continued to be for purchases of products which fall within the ‘personal and household goods’ category and disappointingly there has also been a large increase in the ‘personal and household services’ category.

“Complaints in this category, which include repairs to whitegoods, removalist services, cleaning, gardening and landscaping services, have more than doubled from 1,523 in 2020 to 3,268 in 2021.”

In 2021, the OFT assisted thousands of Queenslanders, from obtaining a replacement motorised wheelchair for a Cairns consumer with disability through to assisting a Mackay consumer to get a refund on event tickets they had accidentally ordered due to a lack of computer literacy.

The Attorney-General said a retired couple was assisted by the OFT to receive around $34,000 who had encountered major issues with a motor home they had purchased to travel around Australia.

“After months of trying to resolve the issue themselves they sought the help of the OFT through the Hervey Bay office which resulted in the trader collecting the motor home and returning it to the factory for repairs and covering the consumers’ temporary accommodation costs,” she said.

The top 5 most complained about industries in Queensland in 2021:

  • Personal and household goods (e.g. furniture, whitegoods, TVs, computers) – 5,692
  • Personal and household services (e.g. repairs to whitegoods, removalists services, cleaning, gardening, etc) – 3,473
  • Motor vehicle sales – 1,639
  • Real estate agents (excl resident letting) -1,133
  • Motor vehicle service, repairs, parts – 999

The most complained about industries by region in 2021:

Location of consumer

Number of complaints finalised

Redress obtained by OFT for these consumers **

Top five industries complaints related to

Brisbane area*

11,680

$4,248,601

1. Personal and household goods

2. Personal and household services

3. Motor vehicle sales

4. Real estate agents

5. Motor vehicle services, repairs, parts

Cairns region

685

$385,662

1. Personal and household goods

2. Personal and household services

3. Motor vehicle sales

4. Motor vehicle services, repairs, parts

5. Real estate agents

Townsville region

574

$647,465

1. Personal and household goods

2. Personal and household services

3. Motor vehicle sales

4. Motor vehicle services, repairs, parts

5. Real estate agents

Mackay region

343

$717,558

1. Personal and household goods

2. Personal and household services

3. Motor vehicle sales

4. Motor vehicle services, repairs, parts

5. Real estate agents

Rockhampton region

416

$426,147

1. Personal and household goods

2. Personal and household services

3. Motor vehicle sales

4. Motor vehicle services, repairs, parts

5. Travel agents

Wide Bay region

606

$389,718

1. Personal and household goods

2. Motor vehicle sales

3. Motor vehicle services, repairs, parts

4. Travel agents

5. Real estate agents

Toowoomba region

532

$720,306

1. Personal and household goods

2. Personal and household services

3. Motor vehicle sales

4. Real estate agents

5. Motor vehicle services, repairs, parts

Sunshine Coast region

1,373

$921,195

1. Personal and household goods

2. Personal and household services

3. Motor vehicle sales

4. Motor vehicle services, repairs, parts

5. Travel agents

Gold Coast region

2,309

$2,233,214

1. Personal and household goods

2. Personal and household services

3. Motor vehicle sales

4. Real estate agents

5. Motor vehicle services, repairs, parts

Total

18,521

$10,689,866

*Includes consumers who reside outside of Queensland or have not provided an address.

**The redress figures provided are those obtained for consumers 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 or intelligence received by the agency rather than consumer complaints.

Consumers who believe they have been treated poorly and are unable to reach an outcome with a trader can lodge a complaint with the OFT at https://www.qld.gov.au/law/fair-trading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68)

While the OFT does not have the power to direct a trader to provide redress, it is able to resolve the majority of disputes through conciliation.

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