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Frequently asked questions (FAQs) 

Role of Fair Trading 

  

What does Fair Trading do? 

NSW Fair Trading administers fair trading laws and looks after the rights of consumers. At the same time we advise businesses and traders on fair and ethical practices. The aim is to achieve fairness for all in the marketplace.

Informing consumers and traders about their rights and responsibilities is an essential ingredient of this work. Being informed empowers consumers to make better purchasing decisions and is the best defence consumers and traders can have against marketplace scam artists.

Fair Trading services

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How can I make a complaint about a trader or business and is there a fee? 

You can lodge a complaint online following easy step-by-step instructions, or at your local Fair Trading Centre. This is a free service.

Lodge a complaint online
Fair Trading Centres

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What are the most common complaints made by consumers? 

Fair Trading received a total of 41,811 complaints in 2010. The top 10 most common complaints are listed below:

  1. Residential Building Work, including major renovations.
  2. Household Electrical and Whitegoods.
  3. Automotive – used cars and motorcycles.
  4. Goods, including furniture, furnishings and Manchester.
  5. Automotive repairs and servicing.
  6. Travel and Tourism.
  7. Goods, including clothing, footwear and accessories.
  8. Computer technology and hardware.
  9. Professional Services.
  10. Automotive – new cars and motorcycles.

Know what you are entitled to when it comes to refunds, returns and warranties. Every consumer in New South Wales should feel confident they are getting what they pay for. Refer to Smart consumer survival tips (PDF size: 928kb) to prevent problems in the marketplace.

Consumer guarantees, warranties and refunds

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Can Fair Trading help with award wages, unfair dismissal or other workplace related information? 

No. You should contact NSW Industrial Relations at www.industrialrelations.nsw.gov.au for advice on employment and workplace related issues.

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Can Fair Trading mail out legislation? 

Fair Trading does not provide hard copy of legislation, however, it is available from our website to download. Alternatively you can purchase a printed version from www.shop.nsw.gov.au or by calling 1300 656 986.

Fair Trading related legislation
View all NSW Legislation online at www.legislation.nsw.gov.au

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How long do applications for a Fair Trading licence take to process? 

While Fair Trading’s guarantee of service for all licence applications is 30 working days, some trade licences can be issued on the spot in Fair Trading Centres.

Likewise, for renewal of licences, Fair Trading guarantees that all licences will be renewed with 14 working days of a renewal form being received, but some can be renewed on the spot in Fair Trading Centres and all home building licences and certificates can now be renewed online.

Owner builder permits are issued on the spot at Fair Trading Centres.

Visit Applying for or renewing a licence  for more information on the specific licence you require.

NSW Fair Trading customer service standards.

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Shopping 

  

Am I entitled to a refund? 

You are entitled to ask the trader for a refund if the item you bought is:

  • not of ‘merchantable quality’ ie. it does not meet the basic level of quality and performance expected, considering its description, price and other relevant circumstances.
  • not the same as the item described in advertising or by the salesperson
  • not fit for the purpose you made known to the trader and you have relied on the trader’s judgement.

However, the trader does not have to give you a refund if you simply changed your mind. Instead of requesting a refund, you may wish to negotiate with the trader to repair or exchange the item.

Consumer guarantees, warranties and refunds

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Scams 

  

I think I have been scammed. How do I report it? 

Many people are scammed every year in Australia. It is often difficult to identify and track down the scammers but it is very important that scams are reported. Apart from reporting suspected frauds to the Police in your state, you can also check on Fair Trading's list of known scams to see if the suspected scam is a common one. If the scam is from a business or person in New South Wales it should be reported to Fair Trading. If the scam originates from a business in another state or from overseas it should be reported to SCAMwatch.

Report a scam
SCAMwatch
Recent scams

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Building 

  

How do I get an owner-builder permit? 

You need to apply at any Fair Trading Centre and show that:

  • you are over 18 years old
  • you own the land or have a prescribed interest in the land (certificate of title or rate notice)
  • you live or intend to live in the completed home or one dwelling of the dual occupancy as your principal residence.

You must also provide:

  • a description and address of the proposed work with a copy of the plans and council development application number or complying development certificate number
  • application fee
  • owner-builder approved course certificate, if the value of the proposed work is over $12,000.

Becoming an owner-builder

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What is Home Warranty Insurance? 

Read all about home warranty insurance:
Home warranty insurance

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How long is the warranty period on new homes? 

The statutory warranty on all residential building work is separate to the home warranty insurance.

For contracts entered into prior to 1 February 2012, the warranty on workmanship is 7 years from the date of completion. This covers both structural and non-structural defects. This means that your tradesperson is responsible for his/her work for 7 years. For more information, go the Definition of completed work section on the Contracts web page.

For contracts entered into from 1 February 2012 onwards, the statutory warranty period is 6 years for structual defects and 2 years for non-structual defects. If the loss becomes apparent in the last 6 months of the statutory warranty period, then the home owner has a further 6 months from becoming aware of the loss to enforce the statutory warranty.

Read more about how to resolve building disputes.

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Can I check to see if a particular tradesperson is licensed? 

You can check a licence online through our online Home building licence check.
Home building licence check

Alternatively, you can ring Fair Trading on 13 32 20. Make sure you have the tradesperson’s licence number, name or company name when you call.

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Do my qualifications match the licence I am applying for? 

Visit Licence classes and qualifications and click on the licence or certificate class you are interested in.

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Can a Fair Trading home building inspector come out to see defects before I lodge a complaint? 

Fair Trading cannot inspect defects until a complaint has been lodged. For information on the dispute resolution process, visit Resolving building disputes.

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What type of home building licence do I need? 

There are five types of home building licences issued by Fair Trading. They are:

  • an individual contractor licence, which allows you to be a sole trader
  • a partnership contractor licence
  • a company contractor licence
  • a qualified supervisor certificate if you wish to be a supervisor on behalf of a company or partnership contractor licence
  • a tradesperson certificate which is a registration in the trades of plumbing, draining, gasfitting and water plumbing. This certificate allows you to work as an employee under supervision.

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What is the Accredited Service Provider Scheme (ASPS) for electricity network connections? 

For information on the ASP Scheme and for lists of service providers, visit Electricity network connections.

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Business 

  

I want to start a business. Can Fair Trading tell me if I require a licence? 

Yes. You call 13 32 20 or visit a Fair Trading Centre in person.
Fair Trading Centres

Alternatively, you can go to the Australian Business and Licence Information Service (ABLIS) designed to assist with the type of licences or government permits your business may need. For more details visit ablis.business.gov.au

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Does Fair Trading issue ABN numbers? 

No. For information about applying for an ABN visit the Australian Business Register on the Australian Taxation Office website at www.abr.gov.au

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Renting 

  

My landlord is not doing the urgent repairs I need at my rented property. Can I stop paying rent? 

Under no circumstances should you stop paying rent. Landlords are obliged to organise any urgent repair, as soon as reasonably possible, after having been notified of the fault or damage.

If the landlord or agent cannot be contacted or does not carry out urgent repairs within a reasonable time, you can spend up to $1,000 and be reimbursed within 14 days by the landlord/agent. Always keep the receipts.

Getting repairs done
Resolving renting problems

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How do I get my rental bond refunded? 

After the final inspection your landlord or agent should fill out a Claim for refund of bond money form, which you both need to sign and forward to NSW Fair Trading - Rental Bonds. You should never sign a blank or incomplete form. You can get a refund by direct deposit or cheque.

Getting your bond back
Ending a tenancy

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