Solar company directors feel the heat (Jarrad Graeme Hand, Polaris Solar Pty Ltd)

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All announcements issued prior to 1 July 2017 were issued by the former Department of Commerce. Announcements listed here are the latest versions available, but may be subject to review. For more information on this announcement, please contact online@dmirs.wa.gov.au.

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Consumer

A director and former director of a liquidated solar company have each been fined $1,500 and ordered to pay court costs of $622.25 in relation to potential customers being misled and a deposit taken during the 10 business day ’cooling off period’ a customer is entitled to under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Jarrad Graeme Hand, director of Polaris Solar Pty Ltd (voluntarily wound up) and a man who stopped being a director in 2014, each pleaded guilty to two charges of contravening the ACL, which the company had previously been convicted of. The hearing was at Midland Magistrates Court on 17 February 2017.

The offences were committed in 2013.

  • A Polaris promotional leaflet distributed in Willetton had a Housing Industry Association Inc. (HIA) logo on it, even though Polaris was not and had never been a member. This could have misled consumers into dealing with Polaris in the belief that Polaris was a member of HIA when that was not the case.
  • A couple in Aveley were contacted via a Polaris telemarketing phone call and subsequently received a visit from a Polaris’ representative about reducing their power bills, which ended in them signing a contract for supply and installation of a solar panel system. Four days later a $1,000 deposit was taken from their credit card, which is prohibited during the 10 business day ‘cooling off period’ under the ACL. A day later they decided to exercise their right to cancel the deal but didn’t get their deposit back until a week later.

Polaris had ceased operating in 2014 after appointment of a liquidator.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard says the recent fines for the directors are an opportunity to remind consumers and businesses about the community’s entitlements under the ACL.

“You get a 10 business day cooling off period for unsolicited sales agreements over $100 – that includes when someone comes to quote but then asks you to sign a contract. It’s illegal for money to be taken during those 10 days, work must not be carried out and goods valued at more than $500 cannot be supplied. Also, the salesperson should be giving you documents and telling you about your cooling off rights and letting you know how you can cancel if you choose to.

“So, if you have second thoughts about a deal you agreed to, perhaps under pressure, when a salesperson came to quote, you can cancel the contract within the 10 business days after signing the contract. If they won’t let you, come to us for help.

“Consumer Protection often recommends using industry accredited tradespeople or companies, which makes it additionally important that businesses do not falsely claim to be a member of, or be affiliated with, an industry association – this is a misleading representation in breach of consumer law.”

More information about consumer rights under the ACL is on the Consumer Protection website www.commerce.wa.gov.au/cp.  Western Australians who need to contact Consumer Protection can email at consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 54.

Media contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
27 Feb 2017

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