Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) is verging on being out of control and is effectively ignoring a range of enquiries and requests from consumers.
The backlogs on dispute settlements are also continuing to bank up.
The CAV website is now the primary option for consumers to have their complaints handled and to be given advice on their responsibilities and rights in the consumer marketplace.
With long periods on hold, calls disconnected and a constant referral back to the website to make email complaints, this unsatisfactory situation is leaving Victorian consumers frustrated and in despair as calls go unanswered and email requests for assistance are ignored.
According to the website, CAV provides advice and assists on topics including rentals and accommodation, estate agents and their responsibilities, building and construction issues, shopping and trading.
If the 1300 558 181 phone number at CAV is called and certain selections made (eg building disputes), the following information is provided:
“Thank you for calling Consumer Affairs Victoria. You’ve reached us at a time of high demand for our services. Unless you do not have access to internet or email service we ask you to use our website at consumer.vic.gov.au as your first point of contact. There you can get access to advice about your rights and responsibilities. Due to circumstances beyond our control we are temporarily unable to take your call. Please visit consumer.vic.gov.au for more information about when normal services will resume. We apologise for any inconvenience.” - Subsequently the call is disconnected.
This is obviously a totally unsatisfactory situation and is failing to provide an adequate avenue for people to have their complaints handled.
There is also a backlog of around 4,000 rental cases at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and almost 1,000 cases still to be resolved through the Dispute Resolution Centre of Victoria process. With CAV averaging 100 new claims daily, the system is totally overloaded with no solution in sight.
Victorians have no confidence in the Andrews Labor Government’s ability to protect consumers at such a vital time.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs, Neil Angus:
“Victorians are being disadvantaged and disrespected at a most crucial time, when advice and direction is needed urgently.
“The Victorian Government cannot continue to put the public on-hold. There are numerous residential issues, building issues and warranty cut-off dates as well as other time-sensitive consumer issues that people are entitled to receive advice on.
“What is really concerning is that this has been the case since March this year, at a time when people are more in need than ever of a system to resolve their issues and hear their complaints.
“To be told by the Andrews Labor Government that it will decide on what is considered “not urgent” and subsequently will not “receive a response” is showing disrespect and treating Victorian consumers with disdain.”