New door-to-door sales ruling

It's happened to us all. We're sitting comfortably at home, relaxing in our space, when there's a knock at the door. Thinking it must be something important, we go to answer it - and it's a salesperson with an agenda.

Not everyone is happy with salespeople at their home. In light of this, on October 11 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released a statement clarifying law relating to door-to-door sales.

Energy retailers and their selling practices are under close watch by the ACCC, the organisation has said, as they actively seek to protect consumers.

In a recent case, the federal court found a company broke the law when a salesperson attempted to contact a home owner despite a 'do not knock sign' on their front door.

The sign clearly stated “DO NOT KNOCK Unsolicited door-to-door selling not welcome here”.

Australian Consumer Law (ACL) requires that salespeople leave immediately at the request of a home occupier, and the court decided that this extends to when consumers use a sign requesting a salesperson not to engage.

"Businesses must respect people’s wishes in their homes. If households do not want unsolicited sellers at their door, they can convey this clearly through a prominent sign on their property and the Court’s decision means that these signs cannot be ignored," ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

"This is particularly important for vulnerable consumers, those from non-English speaking backgrounds or anyone who feels uncomfortable asking a person who is already on their doorstep to leave."

Justice Middleton said the ruling is to protect customers due to the "inherent vulnerability of the relationship" with unsolicited salespersons. This is especially important considering that consumers in their own home cannot walk away from the sales situation, and may feel pressured or threatened.

Now, the companies involved in the sales must pay combined penalties of $1.555 million for other illegal selling practices as well as making false representations. In addition to this, the ACCC is seeking additional penalties for the failure to leave the consumer's premises when requested.

In recent years, there have been many cases of energy retailers not following correct conduct in their door-to-door sales and many others have faced penalties.

Home owners who display "do not knock" signs don't have to miss out on the best energy deals. You can use an electricity comparison service at your own leisure, without facing any pressure!

If you feel like a door-to-door salesperson has overstepped the mark, contact the ACCC.

Posted by Charlie Moore