Scammed by Unlicenced Electrician from hipages - How to Recover?

Hi Folks,

Looking for advice on how to recover the money I paid for a scammer who did a dodgy electrical job and ran away.

Update (12/06): thank you all for your suggestions. I had a heated argument with hipages and they asked the details of payment evidence and ESV outcome and they said they will take it to their manager. But, I have no hope as the payment made through cash (although have text messages confirming the amount he demanded & I paid). Hipages removed the company from their website and no details can be drawn now. ESV advised me that there were already couple of complaints on this gentleman (minor electrical works such as fan replacement etc). If any of you in this group have done electrical works recently, I would strongly recommend to confirm the lodgement of certificate with ESV. He is generally working in Eastern & southern suburbs of Melbourne, but I don’t think he has a limited coverage. If you need further details about him, please pm me.

Tl;dr: I’m scammed by an electrician for a switchboard upgrade paying $900. Later realised that the work done by electrician was illegal and he was not an electrician. Now we will have to pay another $900 for the genuine upgrade work. Any advice to recover the money would be much appreciated.

Detailed description: We have posted an ad in hipages to upgrade the switchboard (which was old fuse system previously). I’ve been connected to three sparkies and one is keen to do the job next day. He came with all tools and said he will start the job for the quoted amount of $900. We accepted and allowed him to do the job. He spent another few hours and fixed a new switchboard on top of existing fuse system and said the existing fuse should be removed by energy provider. We don’t have much knowledge and believed in his words.

After few days, He gave certificate of compliance for the work saying that the safety inspector attended and checked. All good for another few weeks and then we got another electrician to install a new power point in home and he looked at the switchboard and SHOCKED! The switchboard upgrade job was illegal and potentially dangerous to property and occupants.

We then contacted Energy Safe Victoria and they discovered that this gentleman is not a licenced electrician and he could have stolen someone’s certificate of compliance book. Also, they come and checked the work and found that this guy just mounted the new switchboard without connecting to the actual power. ESV said they will take legal action against him, however, can’t help with any recovery of money I paid him. Contacted hipages and no help from them as well. Thinking of going to VCAT, but again , need to spend another $100 for calling and not sure that will help.

Can anyone help with the recovery for my loss? It is quite a lot of money and really hard to forget it. Wake up everyday with the remembrance on this scammer and thinking of how we earn and save money.

Thanks in Advance!

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Comments

  • +2 votes

    Should always ask to show their license before work commences.

    • +2 votes

      Agree (although I haven't always done this in the past). Generally if they have a website and a landline, I tend to think they are legit.

      Thinking of going to VCAT, but again , need to spend another $100 for calling and not sure that will help.

      Yeah, that's a tough one. Con artists tend not to pay under any circumstances. It's hard to kiss good bye to $900, think of it as an investment in a life lesson that will serve you well across many future decisions.

    • +70 votes

      Why do jerks always come on here saying "you should have done x". People know that, hence why they are asking for advice/help after the fact. We don't need your holier than thou "i told you so" BS attitude. If you don't have any help to provide then STFU.

      • +7 votes

        So they know what to do for next time, so they won't get scammed again.

        • +14 votes

          Yeah, because the experience alone was not enough… they need to have it reinforced by the likes of you.

          • +2 votes

            @ozboygsl: Just being scammed doesn't immediately prove you with the knowledge of how to prevent it next time.

            And I have not had a single comment saying what OP should have done. But also you have not contributed any helpful knowledge in this thread either. So taking the high road much?

          • +3 votes

            @ozboygsl: The number of people I've seen scammed MORE than once is evidence that being a victim is apparently not enough for some people.

      • +4 votes

        Because being gullible and/or incompetent is the main reason why people keep getting scammed.

        • +2 votes

          This could have happened to anyone… Electrician even produced certificate of compliance… OP has not done anything specially wrong and still got scammed. Inexperience does not validate a person being scammed as a result.

          •  

            @nsuinteger:

            Inexperience does not validate a person being scammed as a result.

            This sort of attitude will just get you scammed. If you want to be inexperienced and deal with scammers, fine, I'd rather be experienced thanks.

      • +9 votes

        Although it's too late for OP, it helps the other readers who came to this tread from falling into the same trap.

      •  

        Especially when it's advice that 99 percent of them wouldn't actually do themselves.

    •  

      Should not have to ask to see licences or insurance for any tradesmen, it should be standard practice.
      Over the decades I have hired a lot of tradesmen and never has one shown any documents. Most did a crap job anyway, so it's to be expected.

    • +1 vote

      …then you would need to know what their respective licenses look like….and who can memorize all the licenses for each trade, hmmm? …besides those photographic memory people….

    •  

      and take a picture of it?

    • +3 votes

      Really …..who actually ever does this ??

    •  

      How can you tell if the license is genuine? Best way would be to check a licensed tradies database (if it exists) and match the license number, name and photo.

      •  

        There should be a smartphone app from the gov, take a photo of a QR code which verifies a license like that (otherwise whats the point of the license in the first place).

      •  

        Lol 99.9% wouldn't do that. Most of the time people would be happy that the sparky actually turned up.

  • +16 votes

    Better that you found out now.. it could have been a worse outcome.

    Best of luck

  • +3 votes

    Not worth pursuing.

    Better off posting on social media & websites to warn others

    • +2 votes

      Yes, Agreed! This is the only thing I’m doing right now. But, whom to blame? Currently I’m blaming hipages under two reasons.
      1. How did they verify him as a licenced electrician?
      2. They charge from tradies, but, why can’t they compensate unsatisfied customers?
      Not sure I’m doing the right thing.

      • -1 vote

        Do their terms offer compensation for unsatisfied customers?

        E.g. if you are scammed by a Google ad, will Google compensate you?

      • +7 votes

        Actually hipages receive a payment from the individual/company when they respond to your advertisement. That means they have some of his financial records on file. Threaten them with police action, or get the police to get his details. He did commit a crime, fraud / theft by deception or whatever it is called, at the very least.

        I have used hipages before, and the number of shonky responses is over the top. Way worse than just cold calling tradies find online or from the local paper.

      •  

        Absolutely sue hipages. Their step 2
        "Get multiple quotes from professional tradies"

        Yeah, that didn't happen. They should pay for remedial work.

  •  

    No advice here but thanks for posting to alert us

  • +38 votes

    On Hipages website, towards the bottom there is an assurance that says

    "Registered And Licenced.
    ABNs and licences checked and monitored"

    https://hipages.com.au/trust

    You should have a recourse against them. Moreover so if you did click "I HIRED YOU" on the tradie you selected.

    Certainly in my past dealings with hipages tradies, I relied on hipages to do these checks so that's what I would do if I were you.

    • +6 votes

      Logged in to say this. Highpages has made representations regarding:

      Only top notch tradies

      We are proud of our expert, top notch tradies here at hipages. We have a thorough screening process to ensure each tradie meets our high standards before they join our platform.

      https://hipages.com.au/trust

      Start with them directly. Then raise it with VCAT (case against Highpages) if you get no joy. You're unlikely to get much satisfaction out of chasing the dodgy electrician.

  • +9 votes

    This may be contentious advice but if you have some friends who are of the bikie persuasion, you could always book the dodgy electrician for another "job" that ends in getting your payback/teaching them a lesson. I got scammed by rental bond cleaners who won't be scamming anyone else anytime soon.

  •  

    Quite a common 'traveller' scam. Any accent?

    • +3 votes

      do you like dags

      •  

        So disappointed no one else has given you an upvote for that yet! What is this world coming to?! (That said, I had to explain to a late 20s bloke recently what "Red Pill or Blue Pill" meant! Man I feel old!) 🤣

  • +1 vote

    Wow! coming from HIPAGES??? I think you have a ground to appeal here. If it makes you feel better, I wouldn't think to question someone hired from hipages too. Its not like you hired someone from gumtree or facebook

    Thanks for warning me against hipages too, looks like they're just as gumtree.

    • +1 vote

      The thing is my past dealings with HiPages tradies were good. Maybe just luck on the draw but normally I dont hire too cheap nor too expensive.

      At least 3 quotes with invitation to inspect to two of them. Normally go with the one with web presence (professional) and sufficient number of reviews but if not have to have very lots of reviews.

      But I have to say I do assume all listings would already been checked based on the assurance given by HiPages.

  •  

    What was that guys review/rating like? I've hired several tradies for jobs, so far no problems, but I checked their reviews on Hipages and off Hipages (ie. google search).

  • +5 votes

    Did you make the payment via Hipages with credit card? If so, you could submit a dispute for defective goods/services and then it's up to Hipages to chase.

    I second the social media route too - including warning people Hipages aren't sufficiently checking licences and that the work from the unlicensed "verified" electrician could have seriously injured or killed someone. Maybe that might get the attention of someone higher up at Hipages.

    • +1 vote

      Most of these tradies want to be paid by cash. My last job even didnt give tax invoice but it was not a job that require a licence that strict like plumbing or electrician.

      Also I mostly ended up hiring but without pressing that "I hired you" button because the tradies requested not to press that button but only one so far didnt actively ask me for written reviews.

  •  

    VCAT. Having just been through it myself against a dodgy tradie, particularly a sole trade, this is your only possible way to get your money back.

  • +9 votes

    That’s bs.
    Hipages should be held responsible.
    Why are they allowing unregistered sparkies on their website

  • +4 votes

    Lol. It’s like the posts of people complaining about being ripped off via Airtasker. What do you expect when you put out a Dutch auction on these sites and expect the work to be done for next to nothing?

    Got what you paid for. Next time, don’t be a tightarse or use a reverse auction site to find experienced tradesmen. Real tradesmen, at least the ones who are worth it, don’t need to undercut others with cut throat quoting. These types of sites are full of unqualified people who “think” they can do jobs like this and are quite often unlicensed and untrained.

    I work as a part time locksmith and the amount of install work I have to fix or re-do because they got some low quoting guy off one of these work bidding sites is just astounding.

    Do your homework, find reviews and word of mouth about what tradesmen you need and you contact them for a quote. Don’t put up a post asking for them to contact you to quote, because all you will get are these unqualified idiots or shit tier quality guys desperate for work.

    • +3 votes

      I am only commenting to say that my (very tired) brain read that as Dutch Oven and not Dutch auction.

      •  

        Don’t know if you need to be qualified to make a Dutch oven, so seeking someone on HiPages or AirTasker to help you out with one might be a good place to look.

  •  

    Have you contacted Consumer Affairs Victoria?
    https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au also handle the Licensing and Registration…

    If hipages take a fee from the successful engagement, I'd be looking at them as
    you reasonably relied to your detriment on their assurances about the checks and vetting of fake tradie.

    •  

      If hipages take a fee from the successful engagement

      They only take fees from the tradies that advertise on the platform.

      Generally you pay an annual or monthly fee which includes various amounts of credit to purchase the contact details of potential customers who post jobs looking for quotes.

      After paying your fees you get constantly called by their sales reps trying to upgrade you to a higher monthly / yearly spend.

    • +4 votes

      In what universe is it rightful for a criminal to rip someone off because they used a website referral system?

      OP was obviously scammed and you're calling it "pay back"?

  •  

    After an experience with hipages would never go near them again for any trade no matter how good they where.
    To me hipages means shonky or ripoff.
    Never again.

    Also was not looking for cheapest quote, after good,honest work to be done at cost of the that was going to be given.

  • +4 votes

    Can we see some photos of the work?

  • +1 vote

    Here is what I would do,

    Email Hipages and tell them this is your final demand the refund as the person was not licensed, reference the links where they guarantee they are licensed and checked,
    at the end of the email, state if they fail to comply, you will take it to VTAC and will get in contact with journalists/3AW who would love to hear this story, especially after the insulation fiasco a few years ago…

    that should do the trick

  •  

    This is definitely something you need to bring up with Hi-pages. If what you say is correct and accurate then Hi-pages hasn't fulfilled their duty of care. Especially when they advertise ABN's and licenses checked and monitored.

    Put more pressure on them and escalate if required. You'll also need the tax invoice / receipt for the $900 payment. If no record of payment you are stuffed since there is no way of verifying if you paid anything.

    Or give up the $900 and forget about the stress. Whichever makes your life easier.

  •  

    Take an action against hipages as the job through them

  • +3 votes

    People complain about online scams or the Indians that call you. But the number of "tradies" out there scamming people is ridiculous.

    Only use tradies from recommendations of people you know that have used them. Or go with the bigger companies that sub contract tradies. Might cost more, but less chance of a dodgy job or them disappearing with your money.

  •  

    something similar happened to me cops gave zero f**ks and VCAT is a bit of a waste if it isnt a big company save your self the stress either go to this place withs bats or let it go and learn an expensive lesson

  • +1 vote

    Have a look on the guy's HiPages profile page to see if he actually has an electrical licence registered with the platform.

    For example, here is an electrician who has a licence listed that can be checked against the government database in NSW.

    By contrast, here is an electrician who doesn't have any licence details recorded.

    If the person you hired has a licence listed, you can cross check it with the ESV database if you're in Victoria (which I assume you are as you mentioned VCAT).

    If you find a discrepancy with the data you should definitely contact HiPages and alert them to the fact that the details on their platform are fraudulent. This might also help in demonstrating that they are partially responsible for the poor work conducted.

    If there is no licence on HiPages then I'd say your only recourse will be with the person who did the work and/or notifying ESV that this person is out there doing high risk electrical work without a licence.

  •  

    Do a chargeback if paid via cc.

  •  

    Is Airtasker any better? Since payment is only release when the job is done.

    •  

      OP thought the job was done, so in his situation, he'd release the payment without knowing that the job was properly done.

  •  

    This sucks mate. But thank god you found it before it was too late.

  •  

    I personally would let it go and take it as a lesson. Things like this take too much effort, IMO, not worth the money and time spent to chase it up.

  •  

    Hey mate, can you provide a photo of your switchboard upgrade and what he did? Thanks!

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