Door-to-door sellers and telemarketers must follow certain rules about:
- hours they can contact you
- what they need to say
- written agreements
- cooling-off periods.
Consumer rights are different when dealing with door-to-door salespeople or telemarketers. This is because the consumer did not seek out (‘solicit’) the business to buy from them. These types of sales are called 'unsolicited consumer agreements'.
A contract or agreement is unsolicited when:
- a business or their representative approaches the consumer somewhere other than the seller’s place of business, either in-person, by phone or in a public place such as a shopping center
- they approach the consumer without invitation
- the total value of the agreement is more than $100
In a dispute it is the responsibility of the business to prove the contract or agreement was not unsolicited.
Door to door sales
Door-to-door sellers must not approach any residence displaying a Do Not Knock notice. These stickers are available at Service Tasmania.
Hours they can contact you
Door-to-door salespeople can contact you:
- between 9 am and 6 pm on a weekday
- between 9 am and 5 pm on a Saturday.
They must not contact you on Sundays and public holidays.
However, a supplier or agent may visit a consumer at any time if the appointment has been made with the consumer's consent.
What they need to say (disclosure)
A door-to-door salesperson must:
- explain why they are visiting
- produce identification that shows their full name and who they work for
- tell you that they can be asked to leave at any time
- leave the premises immediately if asked to do so
- explain the cooling-off period.
A copy of a contract must be given to the consumer.
The contract must:
- be signed
- state that the salesperson is acting on behalf of a business
- outline the total cost, including GST
- include a notice that may be used to cancel the contract
- include the contact details.
If a contact is made over the phone, it must arrive within five business days.
What door to door sales people need to include
An agreement signed by a salesperson on a supplier’s behalf must include:
- the supplier's name, Australian Business Number (ABN), or, if they have one, Australian Company Number (ACN)
- the supplier's business address (not a post office box), or residential address if no business address is available
- the supplier's email address and fax number (if available).
Door-to-door salespeople are not allowed to try to get consumers to remove their rights. They are also not allowed to include certain statements in contracts that exclude, limit, modify or restrict:
- a consumer's right to end the agreement
- any law relating to contracts.
Consumers have ten business days after receiving the contract to change their mind. During this time, the contract may be cancelled and businesses may not:
- supply goods, unless valued under $500
- supply any services
- take any payment or deposit.
If a consumer cancels an agreement
A consumer may end an agreement orally or in writing. The end date is taken to be the date on which the consumer gave or sent notice.
Once a consumer has given notice to end an agreement, the agreement is cancelled. The notice is effective even if:
- the consumer gave written notice, but the supplier has not received it
- products or services supplied have been wholly or partly consumed or used.
Consumers do not own goods until they pay for them, even if they have been supplied. If a consumer cancels a contract within the cooling-off period, they must:
- keep the goods in good condition
- make them available for the business to collect.
The business must collect the goods within 30 days of the cancellation, otherwise the consumer may keep the goods free of charge.
Consumers may be able to cancel the contract without penalty for up to 6 months if the business breaks the selling rules.
Door to door travelling conmen
People who travel from door to door seeking work are known as door-to-door travelling conmen or itinerant traders. They may try to convince you to hire their services on the spot. This is illegal.
All door-to-door salespeople must give you a cooling-off period of ten business days to change your mind. They must not take any money during the cooling-off period, and they cannot begin any service during this time.
Travelling conmen have no fixed address. They move around so they can target new towns and suburbs. Travelling conmen aim many of their sales at older people.
They may try to convince you by:
- telling you a hard-luck story
- claiming to offer a good deal because they 'are in the area'
- claiming they have products 'left over from another job'
- make you feel pressured to accept their offer.
Protecting yourself against travelling conmen
- don't open your door if you suspect there is a travelling con man
- if you do speak to them, ask them to leave immediately
- record as much information as you can
- report them to the Travelling Conmen National Hotline on 1300 133 408
- don't be tempted by cheap deals
- warn your friends, family and neighbours.