You have the right not to remain silent – and that includes when you think you might have been overcharged for work done on your car.
In a recent case, a woman complained to our office because a car repair service refused to give her information which she had requested about repairs made to her pick-up truck. She had given the job of getting the vehicle repaired to a local mechanic who had done some earlier work for her. However, he advised her that he was not equipped to carry out this particular job but knew a repair service in another centre that could.
The mechanic then transported the car and delivered it to the repair service. After the vehicle was returned, the mechanic charged the woman $1700 for the work done, plus $500 for transporting the vehicle.
The woman was suspicious. The cost of fixing her vehicle seemed high. To make sure, she asked the repair service how much it had charged the mechanic. The vehicle still required more repairs and she needed to know what work had already been carried out as well as a breakdown of the charges. She suspected the mechanic had inflated his bill to her and charged her much more than he had had to pay the business.
But the repair service refused to give her copy of the invoice. They said the mechanic had not given his consent to the business owner for them to give the invoice to the woman. The business manager said because the mechanic had brought the vehicle in, the woman was not entitled to that information, even though she was the registered owner of the vehicle and had provided proof of this.
The woman’s complaint raised issues under principle 6 of the Privacy Act. Principle 6 says individuals have a right to have access to personal information held about them by an agency. Property information, where an individual can be identified from it, could be considered personal information. This is something we need to decide on a case-by-case basis. In this particular case, our investigator decided that as the woman was the owner of the vehicle, the account and repair information was also her personal information.
When an agency receives a request for personal information in accordance with principle 6, it should provide that information to the individual unless one of the withholding grounds set out in sections 27-29 of the Act applies.
We decided none of the withholding grounds applied in this case. We advised the business to hand over the invoice to the woman. The business complied. The woman was satisfied with the outcome and we closed our file on the complaint.
Image credit: Renault Juvaquatre via Pixabay (Creative Commons licence)