Simple checks to avoid ‘unethical plumbers’


Unethical plumbers have recently tarnished the profession, with Master Plumbers ACT keen to defend its trade while informing consumers how to protect themselves.

Plumber using a wrench to tighten a siphon under a sink

Executive Officer of Master Plumbers ACT, Leigh Watson, said the association was aware that there have been instances recently in the ACT where customers have been charged unfairly.

This follows on from a recent ACT Supreme Court ruling which ordered Your Local Plumbing Group Pty Ltd pay a $100,000 penalty for making false and misleading representations, and engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct, in relation to the advertising of plumbing services in the ACT.

Ms Watson said those seeking to engage a plumber can do some simple checks to avoid being victims of unethical plumbers starting by checking that the plumber has a registered business through the Australian Business Registration website.

“A plumber’s ABN should be listed on their website and in advertising,” Ms Watson said. “Consumers should then check that the plumber is registered on the Access Canberra List of Licenced Plumbers – if you can’t find their name here then they are not licensed. This licence number should also appear on all advertising.

“Lastly, they can do the final internet check of the name to bring up any customer reviews. Once the plumber arrives at your residence, they also need to show you proof of their Public Liability Insurance.”

Ms Watson also warned about handymen undertaking various aspects of plumbing work.

“This is not legal and more than likely will not be covered by insurance. Even a simple job such as taps installed by a handyman would not be passed by an inspector,” she said.

Overall, Ms Watson said the easiest way for a consumer to ensure they are dealing with “an honest and ethical plumbing business” is to choose a member of a reputable industry association, such as Master Plumbers ACT.

“To sustain a membership with the ACT Master Plumbers Association, a plumber needs to provide proof of current Plumbing License, Business Registration, Public Liability Insurance – as well as abide by a Code of Ethics. So by engaging them, the checks are already done for you,” Ms Watson said.

“On top of that, if we receive multiple complaints about members, they are investigated in a prompt manner and, if found to be unethical, unreasonable, have a poor quality of work or have lost business registration or credentials, they have their membership revoked.”

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