Consumer Mediation Service

Step 1. Know your Rights

The first and most important step towards successfully resolving a problem is to know and understand what you are entitled to (under a Contract or Agreement), so you know exactly what to ask for.

The most impressive and compelling way to state your case to the other party is to show that:

- you are aware of what the other party is obligated to do for you (under the Contract or Agreement); and 
- you know what you're talking about. 

Knowing your rights and entitlements under a Contract or Agreement lends a great deal of authority and legitimacy to your complaint and forms a solid foundation for a successful resolution process. Remember, you may be entitled to even more protection than is offered by the other party in a written Agreement or Contract. If you are not sure of your rights consult with your legal adviser. 

From the beginning of a problem:

- discipline yourself to keep a written record of events, particularly of when you informed the other party of the problem, who you spoke with and what was said; and 
- keep a copy of any documents you send or receive. 

Step 2. Go to the Source - Immediately

Once you discover a problem, you’re most likely to get immediate attention and action if you take the matter to the other party as soon as possible, either in person or with a phone call.

Before you do, think ahead! You should be prepared to explain the basic facts of the problem, when it developed and what you believe needs to be done – in accordance with the Contract or Agreement. If the response is not positive, or the person contacted can’t help you:

Step 3. Write a Letter

Address the letter to the Owner, Licensee or Principal of the Business, and clearly state:

- what the product or service is, along with where and when you arranged it 
- what the problem is, and when it first occurred 
- what you've done so far to resolve the problem (who you have spoken to by phone, or visits, and what was said) 
- your understanding of your rights under the Contract or Agreement 
- what you believe needs to be done to put the matter right, and 
- a time limit for a response, and perhaps an indication of what action you will take if that time limit is not met. 

Keep the letter short; to the point and deal only with the facts of the matter (keep a copy for your records).

In your written correspondence, and especially in any face-to-face or phone conversations remain cool and only deal with the facts of the matter. Don't lose your temper or let your frustration get the best of you. Invariably, a resolution is easier to reach if you remain un-emotive, level-headed and matter-of-fact about the issue. If the response is not positive, or the matter is still unresolved:

Step 4. Take it to the QBCC

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission offers an Early Dispute Resolution (EDR) service to assist clients and contractors resolve disputes at an early stage prior to them escalating to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.  If you wish to take advantage of this process call 139 333 or visit their website: www.qbcc.qld.gov.au.
 

SPASA Recommended Domestic Building Contract - Clause 25 Disputes, states:

1) If either party considers that a dispute has arisen in relation to anything in connection with this Contract, during the progress of the Works or after completion of any Stage, that party must immediately upon becoming aware of such circumstances, give the other party a written notice setting out the details of the dispute.

2) Prior to the certificate of Practical Completion being issued and within 15 Business Days of a notice being given under Clause 25.1, if the dispute cannot be resolved informally between the parites, the parties must then participate in the QBCC's Early Dispute Resolution process (EDR).

3) The Customer can make no objection to a representative of SPASA Queensland participating in the EDR if requested by the Contractor.

4) If the dispute cannot be resolved through EDR, the Customer or Contractor (as the case may be) must then give written notice to the other party advising of their intention to refer the dispute to the relevant court or tribunal as appropriate.

5) Upon the giving of a notice under clause 25.1 by either party, the Contractor may elect to suspend the Works until such time as the dispute is resolved.

6)  Nothing in this Clause shall  prejudice the rights of a party to institute proceedings to enforce payment due under Clauses 10 or 21 or to seek urgent injunctive or declaratory relief in respect of a dispute under this Clause or any matter arising under this Contract.