New Consumer Campaign: Do Not Knock
Do Not Knock: A New Consumer Protection Initiative
Door-to-door sales: consumer rights explained
Think twice before signing that contract
Door-to-door sales have come under more scrutiny lately, with aggressive campaigns among energy retailers and other service providers to persuade consumers to switch contracts. Long gone are the days when sellers hawked wares such as encyclopaedias and vacuum cleaners at the door — nowadays it is the promise of potentially saving money on energy or phone bills. Unfortunately, consumers often end up worse off as a result of signing up to a contract at the door or agreeing to something over the phone.
Unsolicited consumer agreements
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) commenced on 1 January 2011, and gathers together diverse State laws into a national regime for controlling what are called “unsolicited consumer agreements”, which includes door-to-door sales and telemarketing.
Whilst regulation of door-to-door sales is not a new idea, a consistent and simplified national regime helps consumers to understand their basic rights.
Door-to-door sellers often exploit the vulnerability of the elderly, migrants who might struggle with English, and full-time carers at home during the day. An important aspect of the ACL is that the consumer has the right to ask the seller to leave, and the seller must leave immediately when requested. Unfortunately, elderly members of the community may be too polite, or migrants may be trying hard to fit into a new culture, and find it hard to be assertive enough to tell the seller to leave.
A new national consumer rights campaign
As part of a nationwide Do Not Knock campaign, the Legal Services Commission of South Australian has, in conjunction with Victoria Legal Aid and the Victorian Consumer Action Law Centre, produced a Do Not Knock sticker to deter unwanted door-to-door sellers. They send the simple message that door knockers are unwelcome at the address.
Free 'Do Not Knock' resources
The stickers and a pamphlet outlining consumers rights are available for free from any Legal Services Commission office or via this website – just click HERE.
You DON'T have to:
change your gas, electricity or telephone supplier
sign any contracts
give out personal information
let the person into your home
show anyone your bills.
Put the DO NOT KNOCK sticker on your door
Ask the salesperson to go away
Take your time to decide. Look at the prices and services offered by other suppliers
Ask for a copy of the contract
Get free advice before signing anything
What to DO
Even over the phone, you need to be very careful of scams relating to repairs to computers or subscriptions to publications. Under any circumstances, DON’T give any payment or credit card details over the phone, and don’t agree to buy anything either. Its best to avoid companies calling you to try to sell you things by contacting the Do Not Call register on 1300 792 958 or go to www.donotcall.gov.au
Consumers who sign up at the door or agree to buy something over the phone do have further rights, the most important being the right to “cool off”. The ACL requires sellers to give consumers information about their cooling off rights, and consumers have at least 10 business days to change their mind (if the total price paid is under $100). That period of time can be extended to up to six months in certain circumstances, and it pays to get advice quickly if a consumer has been persuaded to buy something that they later decide they do not want or it turns out to be a bad deal.
For further help and general legal advice, phone the Legal Help Line on 1300 366 424.
Click HERE to review the legislation on the Law Handbook Online.
Click HERE to order the Do Not Knock stickers and pamphlets to pass on to family and friends.
Visit www.donotknock.org.au for more information and insights into the Do Not Knock campaign, including information in other languages.
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