Do not be fooled by Building Contractors

18/12/2017 11:20

The Consumer Council of Fiji is calling on consumers to avoid falling prey to the gimmicks of some unscrupulous building contractors who tend to fool consumers to get their payment without completing the intended works.

A total of 150 complaints with a monetary value of $3.1 million dollars were registered from 2013 till to date. The complaints mostly relate to poor quality job, inferior materials used and non-completion of work within the scheduled time-frame.

The Council recently dealt with a complaint whereby a consumer was convinced by a building contractor to sign off a completion certificate, despite the construction work not being completed.
According to the consumer, the building contractor claimed that he was facing financial difficulty and given that he had completed around 90% of the work, he wanted the consumer to write a completion letter to the financier so that his money could be released so that he could complete the remaining construction work.

Whilst the consumer acted in good faith and wrote a completion letter, the contractor after receiving the money stopped work.

Despite several attempts made by the consumer to get the contractor back to complete the work, no favorable outcome was achieved. Stressed with the turn of events, the consumer then lodged his complaint with the Council.

The Council enquired with the contractor who outright informed the Council that the home owner had given the completion letter which stipulated that he was satisfied with the work carried out by him. Nevertheless, the Council mediated and managed to persuade the contractor to refund the labour cost of the incomplete work.

Given such cases, the Council urges consumers to be mindful of their actions and its possible consequences, particularly when dealing with service providers where thousands of dollars are at stake.

While ’good faith’ considerations are not discouraged, this should only be done in such a way that the consumer is adequately protected.

Further, in light of such cases, the Council anticipates that the accreditation and licensing process of building contractors is tightened as consumers have suffered for too long and lost their hard earned money at the hands of some unscrupulous building contractors. It is time that consumers have the liberty to choose from a list of accountable and ethical building contractors who are insured and have tendency to complete the work undertaken. With accreditation, there will be some control placed on the work ethics of the contractors which will build trust.