A couple have been fined after they left a string of customers with half-finished renovation projects across southeast Queensland.
A couple have been fined after they left a string of customers with half-finished renovation projects across southeast Queensland.

Couple fined $38k for string of horror home renos

A couple who left four homeowners in the lurch after failing to deliver on renovation jobs will have to pay $37,987 in fines and compensation.

An investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) found Cheap as Chips Render and Paint owners Russell Freeman and Rebecca Arthur accepted payment for work at the four homes in Brisbane, Toowoomba and Gympie but never finished the work.

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The pair pleaded guilty to four charges each, were both fined $12,000, and were ordered to pay a total of $13,987 in compensation to the customers.

Brisbane Magistrates Court heard that between February, 2018, and June last year the pair accepted payments, signed contracts and began the agreed painting and rendering work.

But soon after Freeman and Arthur began the jobs, they started pushing back the completion dates.

After numerous attempts to chase them up, the four jilted customers eventually were unable to contact the company or its two owners.

In the end, the court heard, they had to engage qualified tradespeople to fix up and finish the work.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said it was not acceptable for a trader to ignore their obligations under the Australian Consumer Law, as Cheap as Chips Render and Paint had done.

"Traders must not accept payment from consumers if they know, or ought to reasonably know, they can't deliver the goods or services by the agreed date," Mr Bauer said.

"The OFT does not tolerate this type of unscrupulous behaviour and will continue to protect the rights of Queensland consumers who are left out of pocket by dishonest traders."

If consumers have paid for goods or services they have not received, they should raise the issue with the trader.

If this does not rectify the situation they are encouraged to lodge a complaint to the OFT, either online at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Originally published as Couple fined $38k for string of horror home renos


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