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Case studies Indigenous youth 

Do you know your rights? 

Sandy and Nakita were best friends who shared a house together and had just recently had an electrical fault in their house. They had tried for hours to contact the landlord about the problem, but there was no answer. They started getting worried about what to do because most of their food in their freezer had started to defrost, no lights could be used in the house and they couldn’t cook food. Hours of trying to contact their landlord turned into 2 days of relying on take away food and candles, not being able to keep anything cold in the fridge, as well as having no heating during the night.

Nakita and Sandy were not aware of their rights as tenants and this would have made the difference from living out of an esky in darkness for 2 days, to living their life as normal. Had Nakita and Sandy contacted their nearest Fair Trading Centre or the Aboriginal Tenancy Information Service they would have known that:

  • the repair problem was actually an 'urgent repair' 
  • they could have contacted any properly qualified tradesperson but must have first tried to use any tradesperson named by the landlord in the tenancy agreement
  • they could have paid up to $1,000 for the repairs and claimed it back from the landlord within 14 days 
  • they could have applied for an urgent hearing with the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.

For more information about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant contact your nearest Fair Trading Centre or call the Aboriginal Tenancy Information Service on 13 32 20 or 1800 500 330 (if outside of Sydney).

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Be in the know! 

Ben bought a new MP3 player but when he got it home it didn’t work properly. He rang the shop and explained the situation. They told him that he could return it to the shop and they would sort it out. Ben went back that same day and was given a credit note. He didn’t like any of the other MP3 players on offer and in the end bought something that he didn’t really want. Ben felt frustrated and disappointed because he thought there was nothing he could do about it. If Ben had known his rights as a consumer he would have:

  • spoken to the shop owner or manager
  • known that he did not have to accept the credit note
  • known that he was entitled to get his money back or ask the shop owner to replace or repair the MP3 player
  • contacted his nearest Fair Trading Centre for information about his rights and help in sorting out any problems with the shop.

For more information on shopping call into your nearest Fair Trading Centre or phone 13 32 20 .

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A poor reception 

Scott had to move from his home for work. He rented a flat and decided that it would be better to get a mobile phone than a phone connected to his flat. Scott went into a mobile phone shop and spoke to a mobile phone retailer. He chose a monthly plan with a minimum term of 2 years. The Plan included a 'free' phone and free calls every month with a total minimum cost of $1,500 for the 2-year term of contract (which works out to be about $60 per month). Scott planned to have the mobile phone as his only phone and because it was 'free' and was the latest model he thought the total cost was reasonable.

His problems began almost straight away. Although the phone would work sometimes, Scott found that he could not send or receive phone calls from his home. He went back to the retailer several times and was told that the phone was not faulty and that it was a problem with the reception. This was an issue for the network provider.

Scott rang his network provider who advised him that the area that he lived in was well known for its poor reception. Scott was very angry. He had made it clear when he signed the contract that he needed the phone so that his employer, family and friends could contact him at home. The retailer denied that Scott had said he mainly wanted to use the phone at home, and anyway, it was Scott’s responsibility to check the coverage map or contact the network provider to find out where he could use the phone before he signed the contract. The network provider would not cancel the contract and refund Scott the money that he had already paid. Scott had to pay for the full cost of the contract - $1,500 - even if he returned the phone and cancelled the contract.

If you have problems with your network service provider, contact:

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

PO Box 276, Collins Street West
Melbourne Victoria 8007
Free call: 1800 062 058

If you have problems with a retailer, contact:

Your nearest Fair Trading Centre
Or phone Fair Trading: 13 32 20

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