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What are door-to-door sales?
A door-to-door sale is a type of 'unsolicited consumer agreement' - this is an agreement for a business to supply goods or services to a consumer.
This type of agreement occurs when:
- negotiations for a sale take place somewhere other than the seller's place of business (for example, at your home or on the phone), and
- the seller or the agent approaches you uninvited, and
- the total value is more than $100 (or cannot be determined when the agreement is made).
The sections below detail your rights regarding such agreements.
If you initiate or ask somebody to visit you at home (for example, you call an electricity company to discuss changing providers, and you ask for an agent to visit you) this is not considered an unsolicited consumer agreement; therefore, you do not get the same rights, such as a cooling-off period.
However, in these cases, you still have other rights; for example, those relating to misleading and deceptive conduct. For more information, view our Misleading or deceptive conduct page.
Door-to-door sales hours
Door-to-door sales are only permitted between:
- 9:00 am and 6:00 pm Monday to Friday
- 9:00 am and 5:00 pm Saturday.
They are prohibited on Sundays and public holidays.
However, a door-to-door salesperson may visit you at any time with your consent.
Rules for door-to-door salespeople
Door-to-door salespeople must:
- tell you why they are visiting you and show identification
- leave if you ask them to
- provide their contact details
- give you a written copy of the sales agreement as soon as it has been signed
- inform you of your cooling-off rights and how you can end the agreement
- not attempt to get you to waive your cooling-off rights.
For detailed information about each of these requirements, view our Fair trading - Door-to-door sales page.
Cooling off or termination
You have 10 business days to reconsider a door-to-door sales agreement, during which you can cancel the agreement without penalty. This is called the termination period or cooling-off period.
The cooling-off period begins on the first business day after the agreement was made.
During the cooling-off period, a supplier must not accept or require any payment, or supply any goods or services relating to the agreement. Goods or services supplied during the cooling-off period are considered unsolicited supplies and you are not liable to make any payment for them.
For more information, view our Unsolicited supplies - Fair trading page.
Extended cooling-off period
You may terminate a door-to-door sales agreement up to three months after it is made if the salesperson:
- visited outside of the permitted selling hours
- did not tell you the purpose of the visit
- did not produce identification, or
- did not leave the premises upon request.
The cooling-off period is extended to six months if a salesperson:
- did not provide information about the cooling-off period
- was in breach of any of the requirements for unsolicited consumer agreements (such as failing to provide a written copy of the agreement or not including required information in the written agreement)
- supplied goods or services during the cooling-off period.
If you cool off or terminate
You may terminate an agreement orally or in writing. The termination date is considered to be the date on which you sent or gave notice.
Once you have given notice to terminate an agreement (either orally or in writing) the agreement is void. The notice is effective even if:
- written notice has been given, but the supplier has not received it
- you have partly or fully consumed the goods or services supplied.
If you cancel an unsolicited consumer agreement, then any related contract or instrument is also void, which means it is also effectively cancelled.
You agree to buy a $900 washing machine from a door-to-door trader, and also sign a separate agreement for servicing the washing machine, costing $80. The second contract is not covered by the cooling-off provisions. If you cool off on the washing machine purchase then the service contract is also cancelled.
For goods bought on credit or finance, it is the supplier’s responsibility to contact the credit provider and arrange for cancellation. For more information, contact the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
When you cool off, the supplier must promptly return or refund to you any money paid under the agreement or related contract.
In most cases, a supplier cannot:
- take action against you to recover any payments allegedly owed under the agreement
- place, or threaten to place, your name on a list of defaulters or debtors.
What happens to the products or services after you cool off?
You must (within a reasonable time) return any products that have not been consumed or tell the supplier where to collect them.
If you have not taken reasonable care of the products, the supplier can seek compensation for depreciated value, or for any damage to the products.
You do not have to pay compensation for normal use of the products or circumstances beyond your control.
If the supplier does not collect the products within 30 days once notice has been given, you can keep them.
If the agreement is terminated after the cooling-off period and a service has already been provided, you may have to pay for the service as it cannot be ‘undone’ once it has been provided.
‘Do not knock’ stickers
The Consumer Action Law Centre offers advice on dealing with door-to-door salespeople and provides ‘do not knock’ stickers. For more information, visit the Do not knock website.
Last updated: 17/06/2013