Door-to-door and telemarketing sales are two ways that businesses can sell you a product or service. However, they are different sales methods in that you do not initiate contact with the business, as you normally would by entering a shop or making an online purchase.
For this reason, you 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.
Generally, you have the following protections from unsolicited consumer agreements:
- salespeople have limited hours in which they can contact you
- if you make an agreement, you have 10 business days to change your mind and cancel it
- salespeople must make certain disclosures to you when making an agreement
- sales agreements must be in writing
- there are restrictions on supply and requesting payment during the cooling-off period.
An agreement is unsolicited when:
- a business or their agent approaches or telephones you without an invitation from you
- 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 your door (door-to-door sales)
- phones you (telemarketing)
- approaches you in the common area of a shopping centre.
If you agree to a contract, you have 10 business days in which to change your mind and cancel the contract without penalty.
In certain circumstances, where the business breaches some of the below rules, you´ll be entitled to terminate the contract for up to 3 or 6 months.
A salesperson who visits you is required to:
- explain upfront the purpose of the visit and produce identification
- inform you that you can ask them to leave at any time
- leave the premises if you ask them to do so
- explain your cooling-off rights
- give you a written copy of the agreement
- provide their contact details in the agreement.
When you buy a product or service from a door-to-door salesperson, you must receive:
- 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 your right to cancel the agreement.
For agreements negotiated by telephone, you must receive the written agreement within five business days. The cooling-off period then begins on the first business day after you receive the agreement.
You cannot be contacted:
- 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, a business can not supply goods or services, or take any payment or deposit, during the cooling-off period.
There is one exception to this rule - a business may supply goods (only goods, not services) up to the value of $500 during the cooling-off period. However, they may not take payment for the goods.
If a business supplies you with goods during the cooling-off period, you do not technically own them until you have paid for them. If you choose to cancel the agreement within the cooling-off period, the goods essentially become unsolicited goods. This means that you must keep them in good condition and make them reasonably available for the business to collect. If they do not collect them within 30 days, you may keep them free-of-charge.
Door-to-door sales complaints
The Office of Fair Trading takes complaints about door-to-door traders seriously. If you've had a problem with a door-to-door trader, please call us or send us an email.
No door-to-door traders stickers are available to place on your front door or window to deter traders from door knocking. Call 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or email OFTComms@justice.qld.gov.au to order.
You can place your home phone number on the national Do Not Call Register. If a telemarketer calls a number on the Do Not Call Register, they may be breaking the law and face penalties.
However, some organisations are exempt from having to comply with the Do Not Call Register, such as:
- market research companies (surveys)
- charities or charitable institutions
- educational institutions
- religious organisations
- government bodies
- political parties
- independent Members of Parliament
- political candidates.
If you get an unsolicited call, you can hang up at any time.
You can make legally binding contracts verbally so be careful what you agree to when speaking with a telemarketer. If you are interested in their offer, ask them to send details by mail.
For further information about telemarketing, visit the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
Energy suppliers and their marketers (telemarketers/door-to-door salespeople) operating in Queensland, are regulated by the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ).
The EWOQ has a Marketing Code of Conduct which 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, the business does 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.
Last reviewed 11/04/2013