Change to WA’s Disposal of Uncollected Goods Act
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With Acting Consumer Protection Commissioner David Hillyard
What happens when a customer fails to return to collect their goods from a business?
Western Australian businesses left holding uncollected items, which they don’t want taking up valuable storage space, have to take certain steps before they can dispose of the goods. This procedure, which can involve an application to the courts depending on the value of the goods, may seem inconvenient but it’s the law and serves to protect people’s property.
Having to follow the disposal of goods process is known to be an issue for WA’s motor vehicle repairers, who are often left with unclaimed low-value cars only fit for wrecking or parts. Other examples include:
- a towing business picks up a damaged car but isn’t told by the owner what to do with it;
- clothes are left for dry-cleaning but never collected;
- holidaymakers vacate a caravan park without taking their tent and camp stove.
Up until recently, under WA’s Disposal of Uncollected Goods Act, the requirement to get permission from the court, applied to any item worth more than $300. However, in the biggest change to this law, since its inception in 1970, this value threshold has increased to $3,500. The amendment, which commenced on Monday 12 June 2017, will save businesses time, money and hassle.
So from now on, if a vehicle or any item worth less than $3,500 is not claimed or collected and the business cannot contact the customer, there is no need for the business to submit a court application for permission to get rid of it. Importantly businesses do still have to try their best to notify the owner. Businesses wanting to dispose of goods valued at more than $3,500 will need to make an application to the court. This is a legal requirement.
Guidance on the procedures businesses must adhere to when disposing of uncollected goods can be found on Consumer Protection’s website www.commerce.wa.gov.au/cp (there’s a specific factsheet for vehicle repairers) or our contact centre can advise – 1300 30 40 54.
To summarise: for disposal of uncollected goods, a court application is only required for items valued at more than $3,500. Prior to 12 June 2017 the threshold value was $300. The requirements do NOT apply when:
- a tenant leaves items behind at a rental property at the end of a tenancy;
- unsolicited goods are sent to a consumer; or
- goods are left with a pawnbroker.
Going forward Consumer Protection is undertaking a review of the Disposal of Uncollected Goods Act 1970 to modernise the rules and improve processes.
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