Before you apply - Goods and services disputes

Consumer disputes and small claims about products and services you bought or sold.

Find out if you're in the right place

What we can help with

  • Faulty or poor quality products or services
  • Repairs, refunds, returns or exchanges
  • Breach of contract
  • Haven't been paid for a service
  • Unpaid money
  • Unfair contracts

What we can't help with

  • Disputes between neighbours about fences
  • Car accidents
  • Disputes already decided by a court or tribunal
  • Companies that are deregistered or in liquidation
  • Disputes with no connection to Victoria

Get help and advice before you apply

We can help you understand how to apply. We can’t give you legal advice or tell you what to write in your application. These organisations may be able to help you.

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)

Information and advice on renting and accommodation, estate agents, building, shopping and trading.

Consumer Action Law Centre

Free and independent legal help and financial counselling. Based in Melbourne.

Law Institute of Victoria (LIV)

Advice on the Victorian legal system and how to find a lawyer.

Application time limits

Generally you must apply within six years of the dispute. If the dispute was more than six years ago, you may still apply but the other party may successfully argue that we should dismiss the case.

If your claim is to revoke the sale of a car bought for less than $40,000, you must make the claim within 3 months of the purchase date.

Estimated time to VCAT

Due to COVID-19 these timeframes don’t currently apply. It will take longer to hear from us about the next steps in your case.

Approximately 8 - 14 weeks to a mediation, compulsory conference, directions hearing or hearing. 

Application fee

  • Claim or payment amount Standard fee
    Up to and including $3,000 $65.30
    $3,001 - $15,000 $217.70
    $15,001 - $100,000 $487.30
    $100,001 - $500,000 $798.30
    $500,001 - $1,000,000 $1088.60
    $1,000,001 - $5,000,000 $1378.80
    $5,000,001 and over $1669.10
    Claims with no specific dollar value Standard fee
    Claims when you don’t ask for money (eg repairs) $487.30
    Claims when you want money but don’t say how much $487.30
    Specific dispute types Standard fee
    Disputes about retirement village management contracts $487.30
    Cancel the sale of a car you bought for $40,000 or less $65.30
    Neighbourhood disputes that affect company title corporations and service companies for building subdivisions $487.30
    Contractor and hirer disputes about the transport of goods in a vehicle or motorised harvesting of forest products $487.30
    Injunctions (an order for a party to do or stop doing something immediately) Standard fee
    You must pay this fee plus your application fee $217.70
  • Claim or payment amount Corporate fee
    Up to and including $3,000 $93.30
    $3,001 - $15,000 $311.00
    $15,001 - $100,000 $696.10
    $100,001 - $500,000 $1140.40
    $500,001 - $1,000,000 $1555.10
    $1,000,001 - $5,000,000 $1969.70
    $5,000,001 and over $2384.40
    Claims with no specific dollar value Corporate fee
    Claims when you don’t ask for money (eg repairs) $696.10
    Claims when you want money but don’t say how much $696.10
    Specific dispute types Corporate fee
    Disputes about retirement village management contracts $696.10
    Cancel the sale of a car you bought for $40,000 or less $93.30
    Neighbourhood disputes that affect company title corporations and service companies for building subdivisions $696.10
    Contractor and hirer disputes about the transport of goods in a vehicle or motorised harvesting of forest products $696.10
    Injunctions (an order for a party to do or stop doing something immediately) Corporate fee
    You must pay this fee plus your application fee $311.00
  • Claim or payment amount Concession fee
    Up to and including $3,000 No fee
    $3,001 - $15,000 No fee
    $15,001 - $100,000 $162.90
    $100,001 - $500,000 $162.90
    $500,001 - $1,000,000 $162.90
    $1,000,001 - $5,000,000 $162.90
    $5,000,001 and over $162.90
    Claims with no specific dollar value Concession fee
    Claims when you don’t ask for money (eg repairs) $162.90
    Claims when you want money but don’t say how much $162.90
    Specific dispute types Concession fee
    Disputes about retirement village management contracts $162.90
    Cancel the sale of a car you bought for $40,000 or less $32.70
    Neighbourhood disputes that affect company title corporations and service companies for building subdivisions $162.90
    Contractor and hirer disputes about the transport of goods in a vehicle or motorised harvesting of forest products $162.90
    Injunctions (an order for a party to do or stop doing something immediately) Concession fee
    You must pay this fee plus your application fee $108.90

Example cases

Case 1: Product not fit for purpose

You went to buy a car stereo. The salesperson told you what model would fit your car so you bought it. But when you went to install it, the stereo doesn’t fit. The store won’t let you return the stereo for a suitable model. You apply to VCAT to make an order for the store to refund your money.

Case 2: Service not paid for

You’ve installed an air conditioner for a customer. Your customer paid a deposit when they booked the service, and the rest of the money was due on the day of installation. On the day they didn’t pay the rest and you’ve called them, sent emails and sent the invoice to the address but they haven’t paid. You can apply to VCAT for an order for them to pay.

Case 3: Poor quality product and service

A car mechanic buys parts and installs them in your car as part of a service. Within a week, your car makes the same noises it made before you had the service done. The mechanic insists the car is fine. You get another mechanic to look at your car, and they tell you the newly-installed part is faulty and that one of the bolts had not been tightened properly. You apply to VCAT to make an order for the original mechanic to compensate you for the extra costs you had to pay to have your car working properly.

Help and support

  • Sometimes we order someone to do or stop doing something temporarily.

    This is called an interim injunction. Applying for an interim injunction is serious. You must explain to us why the situation is urgent, for example it will cause major damage.

    If you think you need an interim injunction, make sure you’re able to show some important reasons for your application. Include these issues when you apply, or be ready to deal with them at the urgent hearing.

    Find out more about how to apply for an injunction

  • If you are making a claim against a business or company you need to provide ASIC extract with your application. It confirms you’re taking legal action against the right person and the address is correct. We can't progress your application without it.

    ASIC Current Company Extract

    You must buy this document if your dispute is with a company. It confirms you're taking legal action against the right company and that the registered address is correct. To do this:

    If you need help, call ASIC on 1300 300 630.

    ASIC Business Names Extract

    You must buy this document if your dispute is with a business.  It confirms you're taking legal action against the right business holder and that the business address is correct. To do this:

    If you need help, call ASIC on 1300 300 630.

    Incorporated Association Extract

    You must buy this document if your dispute is with an incorporated association. It confirms the incorporated association is registered and your application is sent to the correct contact person and registered address.

    Buy and download the Extract from the Consumer Affairs website

    For help watch the video or call Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81.

  • VCAT cannot give legal advice. If you do choose to get legal advice, you will need to pay any costs. 

    If you want to talk about what you should do, you can access free or low-cost legal advice or find a private lawyer.
      
    If you want a lawyer or other professional representative to speak on your behalf at VCAT, let the other party know in writing before the hearing and ask permission when the hearing starts. You will need to explain why. 

    For some case types you have an automatic right to representation.

    If the claim is for goods and services under $15,000, we generally don’t allow a lawyer or other professional representative to speak for you at VCAT. 

    If you do choose to get legal advice, you’ll need to pay any costs. 

    Read more about legal and professional representation
     

  • If you believe paying VCAT fees would cause you financial hardship, you can apply for fee relief at the same time you apply to VCAT.   

    If we agree, this means we may: 

    • waive the fee 
    • reduce the amount you have to pay 
    • postpone the amount you have to pay.

     
    Any individual can apply for fee relief, including people who don’t have a concession card, but you must meet eligibility criteria. We’ll ask you to give us a summary of your personal financial situation to support your application. 
     
    You only need to apply once. Our decision applies to all VCAT fees you’re asked to pay in your case.

    Learn more about fee relief
     

  • We offer a range of support services including interpreters, disability, security, family violence and Koori support. 

    Make sure you let us know what support you need to early as possible - when you apply to VCAT or get a notice from us.

    If you’ve been in touch with us about support before you come to VCAT, see our customer service staff at the counter or meet the support person at the location you’ve agreed on before the hearing.

    If you are coming to VCAT at King Street, Melbourne and you need support or information, you can visit the free services on Level 5 before the hearing:

    • Court Network volunteers offer free and independent support, information and referral services. They don’t give legal advice.
    • Victoria Legal Aid duty lawyers can help if you are unsure about your options or need advice about your claim.

    You can also contact us by phone, email, post or in person. Our staff can help answer questions about the VCAT process, but they can’t give you legal advice about your case or the outcome.

    Who you can bring to VCAT