Have door to door salespeople approached you on the weekend? Are you a business considering employing such representatives? Door to door salespeople must abide by certain rules when performing their duties. Below, we set out the legal do’s and don’ts of selling door to door.
Door to Door Sales Laws
If you engage in door to door sales of goods/services, you must comply with certain rules and regulations under the Australian Consumer Law which are set out in Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) and Part 6 of the Competition and Consumer Regulations 2010 (Cth). These rules include:
- Ensuring that you do not visit potential customers (or consumers) outside of certain hours;
- Disclosing certain matters to consumers each time you interact with them;
- Ensuring that you properly execute any agreement and provide a copy of it to the consumer; and
- Not supplying the goods/services or accepting or requiring any payment during a prescribed cooling-off period.
1. Hours of Contact With Consumers
You must not visit consumers:
- At all on a Sunday or a public holiday;
- Before 9 am or after 6 pm on a weekday; or
- Before 9 am or after 5 pm on a Saturday.
The only exception to these times is if you have made a prior appointment over the phone or in writing with the consumer before your visit.
If the consumer asks you to leave, tells you that they are not interested in your goods/services, or is unwilling to talk to you about the goods/services you must immediately leave the premises.
If there is a “do not knock” sign, a “no soliciting” sign, or other similar sign on the consumer’s premises, you must immediately leave the consumer’s premises and must not attempt to sell them your goods/services. Importantly, if a consumer asks you to leave, you must not return to their premises for at least 30 days.
2. Disclosure Requirements
On each occasion that you visit a consumer’s premises for the purpose of negotiating a sale or for any incidental or related purpose you must:
- Inform the consumer of the purpose of your visit. For example, that you are there to sell them the goods/services, you are there to negotiate the sale of the goods/services, you are there to finalise the agreement;
- Show the consumer your company ID card, state your full name and inform the consumer that you are attending their premises as a salesperson of the organisation you work for; and
- Inform the consumer that they can ask you to leave their premises at any time.
When negotiating a sale of goods/services, as a matter of best practice, you should:
- Provide the consumer with a written copy of the agreement and afford them an opportunity to read it;
- Explain to the consumer, in general terms, the effect of each provision of the agreement;
- Specifically explain to the consumer that they have a right to terminate the agreement within five business days of signing it, for any reason and without incurring a penalty; and
- Explain to the consumer the methods by which they can terminate the agreement.
When finalising/executing an agreement with a consumer, you should:
- Confirm that the consumer understands the agreement and their right to terminate it;
- Ensure that both you and the consumer sign and date the front page of the agreement (in duplicate);
- Ensure that the consumer initials each page of the agreement;
- Ensure that both you and the consumer sign any amendments made to the agreement;
- Ensure that your contact details are on the front page of the agreement, including your full name, address and email; and
- Provide the consumer with a signed copy of the agreement. You should retain the copy which the consumer has initialled on each page.
4. Cooling Off Period
Every consumer has a right to terminate an agreement within ten business days of entering into it without any penalty. The cooling off period begins from the first business day after the day the consumer signs the agreement or the day that you give the agreement to them (if the sale is by telephone).
The cooling off period may be extended by three months if you:
- Approach a consumer outside the permitted hours referred to above;
- Do not disclose the purpose of your visit or your identity; or
- Fail to leave the consumer’s premises after being required to do so.
The cooling off period may be extended by six months if:
- You fail to inform the consumer about the cooling off period;
- You fail to provide a copy of the agreement to the consumer; or
- Your business provides services to the consumer within the cooling off period, or provide goods that cost more than $500.00 to the consumer within the cooling off period.
It is important to note that your business must not provide services at all and you may only provide goods costing the consumer less than $500 during the cooling off period. Further, you cannot accept or require any payments of any kind from the consumer during the cooling off period.
5. Prohibited Conduct
Under no circumstances should a door to door salesperson do, or attempt to do, any of the following:
- Attempt to sell the goods/services or enter into an agreement with persons who are under the age of 18 years;
- Attempt to sell goods/services or enter into an agreement with consumers who have indicated that they are not interested in purchasing the goods/services;
- Attempt to sell goods/services to or enter into an agreement with consumers who appear to lack the ability to understand the purpose of your visit or the terms of the agreement; or
- Ask or allow the consumer to waive their rights under the agreement. This point is particularly true concerning their cooling off rights.
If you have any questions about your rights and responsibilites as a door to door salesperson, get in touch with our consumer lawyers on 1300 544 755.
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