Door-to-door and telemarketing sales are two ways that businesses can sell a product or service. However, they are different sales methods in that the consumer does not initiate contact with the business, as they normally would by entering a shop or making an online purchase.
For this reason, consumers have extra protections when making purchases in this way. These types of sales are called 'unsolicited consumer agreements'.
The following clip, which is part of our film on the Australian Consumer Law, explains unsolicited consumer agreements.
You are required to follow these rules when engaging in sales activities that may lead to an unsolicited consumer agreement:
- salespeople have limited hours in which to contact consumers
- if an agreement is made, the consumer has 10 business days in which to change their mind and cancel the agreement
- make certain disclosures to the consumer when making an agreement
- provide the sales agreements in writing
- not supply goods over $500 or any services, or request payment during the cooling-off period.
An agreement is unsolicited when:
- a business or their agent approaches or telephones a consumer without an invitation from that consumer
- it results from negotiations by telephone or at a location other than the business´ premises
- the total value is more than $100, or the value was not established when the agreement was made.
Unsolicited consumer agreements may result from when a salesperson:
- knocks on a consumer's door (door-to-door sales)
- phones a consumer (telemarketing)
- approaches a consumer in the common area of a shopping centre.
An invitation by a consumer to provide a quote is not an invitation to negotiate an agreement. Therefore, if a supplier asks a consumer if they would like to accept the quote in person or over the phone, any resulting agreement would be considered unsolicited.
If a consumer agrees to a contract, they still have 10 business days in which to change their mind and cancel the contract without penalty.
If you visit a consumer, you are required to:
- explain upfront the purpose of the visit and produce identification
- inform the consumer that they can ask you to leave at any time
- leave the premises if the consumer asks you to do so
- explain the consumer´s cooling-off rights
- give the consumer a written copy of the agreement
- provide your contact details in the agreement.
When a consumer enters into an unsolicited consumer agreement, you must provide:
- a copy of the signed agreement showing the total price, including GST, of the goods or services provided (or describe in detail how the total price is to be calculated)
- a termination notice which outlines the consumer's right to cancel the agreement.
For agreements negotiated by telephone, you must make sure that the consumer receives the written agreement within five business days. The cooling-off period then begins on the first business day after the consumer receives the agreement.
You cannot attempt contact:
- on a Sunday or public holiday
- before 9 am or after 6 pm (8 pm for telemarketing) on a weekday
- before 9 am or after 5 pm on a Saturday.
These hours apply to all door-to-door and telemarketing sales, even if the agreement is worth less than $100.
Supply and payment
Generally for an unsolicited consumer agreement, you can not supply goods or services, or take payment or deposit, during the cooling-off period.
There is one exception to this rule - you may supply goods (only goods, not services) up to the value of $500 during the cooling-off period. However, you may not take payment for the goods.
If you do choose to supply goods to a consumer during the cooling-off period, the consumer does not technically own the goods until they have paid for them. If the consumer cancels the agreement within the cooling-off period, the goods essentially become unsolicited goods. This means that you must collect them within 30 days from the consumer, otherwise the consumer may keep them free-of-charge.
If you are an energy supplier or are employed to sell the supply of energy in Queensland, you must comply with the Marketing Code of Conduct regulated by the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ).
The Code of Conduct details how a supplier or marketer must act and what information they must disclose when selling the supply of energy to the public.
For more information on the code of conduct, visit the EWOQ website.
If a government declares a ´state of emergency´ some of the unsolicited consumer agreements provisions do not apply.
This allows a consumer to conduct repairs in emergency situations. For example, a tradesperson may offer their services to a consumer who has a damaged roof as a result of a cyclone.
- the person doing the work must hold a relevant Queensland or Commonwealth licence to do the work that is involved - for example, a building or contractor's licence
- the repairs must only be in relation to:
- rectifying a hazard or potential hazard on the person's property
- protecting the health and safety of persons on the person's property
- preventing substantial damage to the person's property.
In these circumstances, you do not have to:
- give the consumer a 10 business day cooling-off period
- notify the consumer that they are legally entitled to a 10 business day cooling-off period
- wait for 10 business days before providing the goods or services contracted for in the agreement
- wait for 10 business days before accepting payment.
The permitted hours rules still apply.
|Door-to-door sales forms|
ACL termination notice (PDF, 18 KB)
Last reviewed 09/04/2013