You know what it’s like. You’re just about to enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with a little free time, when there is a knock on the door. Upon opening the door you are ‘greeted’ by a rather insistent door to door salesperson. Now even if what they are selling is something you’re interested in, you should still acquaint yourself with the rights you have under the law relating to door to door sales.
The Rules For Door to Door
Any person knocking on your door to sell you something – whether it be an offer of ‘cheaper electricity’ or a silk tie – must follow the rules about door to door sales. A salesperson who makes contact with you at your home must:
- Leave immediately if you ask them to and not return for 30 days
- Not visit you at all on Sundays or public holidays; before 9 am or after 6 pm on weekdays; and before 9 am or after 5 pm on Saturdays (without your permission)
- Show you their identity card and tell you their name, the contact details of the company they represent and why they are at your door
- Tell you about your right to cancel any contract you sign with them if you change your mind.
If you decide to buy at your door, the sales agent must provide you with an agreement to sign that contains:
- Information about what you are purchasing such as the terms on which you are buying and the total cost or how this will be calculated if the total cost is unknown.
- The sales agent’s name and their business contact details.
- Information about your rights to cancel the agreement, and a form to exercise these rights if you change your mind.
Your right to change your mind
If you change your mind, you have a 10 day ‘cooling off’ period, which gives you a right to change your mind and cancel the agreement without penalty. The 10 day period only starts when the salesperson explains you have this right to a ‘cooling off’ period. If they don’t bother to tell you, you can cancel the deal at any time within reason.
Terminating is easy
Terminating any door to door agreement is easy and can be done by notifying the salesperson (or their organisation) by phone or in writing at any time during that 10 day cooling-off period. Written termination can be delivered personally, sent via post, emailed or sent via fax. The agreement will be cancelled from the day you give notice… even if it takes Australia Post 5 days to deliver your letter!
Make sure you keep a copy of any correspondence, or record of any phone conversation you might have.
They must refund quick if you change your mind
Once they are advised, if you have parted with any money the salesperson or their organisation must promptly return or refund any money paid under the agreement or a related contract.
What can they supply you with in the cooling off period?
Now a salesperson can supply goods to you during the cooling off period if they cost $500 or less but they can’t supply you with anything that is worth over $500. This is helpful as many consumers in the past felt obligated to keep stuff they never really wanted because it had been dumped on them.
Additionally, they also can’t supply you with any services during the cooling off period, with the exception of electricity or gas services to households not already connected or where there is already a connection but no supply. A salesperson can’t request payment from you during your cooling off period, unless it is for the supply of electricity or gas.
Even if a salesperson does supply you with goods under the value of $500 or energy during the cooling off period, you still have the right to change your mind during that 10 day period. Once you let them know they have 30 days to pick up the goods from you. (Make sure the goods are kept in good condition and are reasonably available to be collected.)
Oh and if they don’t collect them from you within that time…they are yours to keep!
The tricks of their trade
Salespeople know the easiest way to get you on board with the stuff they’re pushing is to become your ‘friend’. They may tell you something about themselves to show they understand and share your concerns. If they can get you to trust them, it will be easier to persuade you to buy their product.
One trick they often try is to apply a little pressure by saying the offer is for ‘today only’ or that there are only a limited number of items available, and if you don’t sign up now you will miss out. Don’t fall into this trap – take all the time in the world you need to research and compare products before you sign up.
Always be firm even when they are insistent. If you feel yourself being harassed just send them away because that is your right under the law.
Check that the business is legitimate
If someone is selling a financial service or product, tell them that you only deal with licensed businesses and that you would like a copy of their licence details and a financial services guide before making a decision. You should also double-check their credentials by phoning ASIC’s Infoline on 1300 300 630.
Put a ‘Do not knock’ sticker on your door
If you don’t feel you have the strength to say ‘no’ to high pressure salespeople, you can put up a ‘Do not knock’ sign on your door. This sticker lets salespeople know that you do not want them to knock on your door.
You can get a Do not knock sticker from the Consumer Action Law Centre website.
A salesperson who ignores your Do Not Knock sticker is committing trespass. You should let them know that and advise them you will call the police if they do not leave straight away.
Energy suppliers (door to door)
Energy suppliers must follow a strict code of conduct for the electricity industry.
Some electricity or gas marketers may give you misleading information or pressure you to sign a contract.
Of course it won’t surprise you to know that these door to door marketers are usually working on commission. For example they may do things like:
- Claim your electricity or gas will be disconnected.
- Ask to see previous bills to confirm you are getting rebates.
- Offer discounts for your area.
- Tell you there will be no exit fee for leaving your current retailer.
- Ask you to sign a document to show they have spoken with you.
Listen carefully, take time to read any documentation and consider any offers thoughtfully and never make a decision straight away. Do not simply rely on claims about saving money.
Be firm with them and if you feel like you’re being pressured ask them to leave.
What about charities, churches, survey people and politicians?
Because there is usually no selling involved, visits from politicians, religious organisations, people seeking donations for charities, and market researchers, a Do Not Knock sticker won’t work for those visits. However, if such a party did arrive at your door you can still advise them to leave and if they don’t you should advise them they are trespassing. Most of them will get the message but if they continue to stay on your property you have every right to call the police.
Although the Do Not Knock sticker doesn’t apply to fundraisers or researchers, the Fundraising Institute of Australia (FIA) has information for people wishing to make a complaint about charities and fundraisers who are FIA members. If you have a problem with a market research company that door knocks, complain to the industry SurveyLine on 1300 364 830.
Ring ring… why don’t you (NOT) give me a call
Ah dear old ABBA couldn’t of said it any better. There are some people you never want to get calls from.
There are easy solutions to get rid of those pesky telemarketers. Click HERE for the Legal Eagle’s advice.