Viking Caravans & Campers ordered to pay more than $460,000
A Gold Coast caravan company who left a string of consumers thousands of dollars out of pocket was ordered to pay more than $460,000 in fines and compensation by the Southport Magistrates Court (9 February 2022), following a successful investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Daniel Robert Klaus, the sole director, and Viking Caravans & Campers Australia Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to a total of 16 charges, including failing to supply caravans to consumers and trading without a motor dealer licence.
Mr Klaus was fined $20,000 and his company fined an additional $20,000. He was also ordered to pay $417,800 in compensation to consumers as well as more than $3,000 in court fees.
The court heard that between 2018 and July 2020 Mr Klaus received deposits from five consumers for the building of new caravans and also arranged to sell used caravans for two consumers on consignment.
Mr Klaus advised consumers of delivery dates for their new caravans but several months after those dates, they had not received them. Consumers who contacted him about the delay were advised by Mr Klaus that he had ended his relationship with the caravan manufacturer and consumers were offered refunds or the opportunity to build a new caravan with another brand.
Consumers who rejected the offer of a replacement caravan were offered full refunds however after months of waiting no refunds were forthcoming.
One consumer who had left their caravan with Mr Klaus to sell on their behalf was not advised of its sale nor how much it had sold for. He sold another consumer’s caravan for $130,000, but after months of chasing Mr Klaus for their money, the consumer only ever received a small portion of what they were owed. Another affected consumer received a defective new caravan, and after months of negotiating, Mr Klaus said he would provide a replacement caravan, however it was never delivered.
Additional charges were also laid by the OFT when the investigation revealed Mr Klaus had failed to provide the correct forms to consumers authorising him to sell their caravans on their behalf. Viking Caravans & Campers had also failed to ensure the money from the sale of the consignment vans was deposited into a trust account for safekeeping as is required by law and had carried out motor dealer activities without holding a motor dealers’ licence.
Fair Trading Commissioner Victoria Thomson said the successful prosecution of Mr Klaus and his company was a reminder to businesses that they will be held accountable if they mislead or rip-off consumers.
Source: Office of Fair Trading Qld Media Release 23/02/2022