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Door-to-door sales explained
A door-to-door sale is a type of 'unsolicited consumer agreement' - this is an agreement for a business to supply products or services to a consumer.
Unsolicited consumer agreements occurs when:
- negotiations for a sale take place somewhere other than the seller's place of business (for example, at a consumer’s home or on the phone), and
- the seller or the agent approaches the consumer uninvited, and
- the total value is more than $100 (or cannot be determined when the agreement is made).
The sections below detail consumer rights regarding such agreements.
If consumers initiate or ask somebody to visit them at home (for example, calling an electricity company to discuss changing providers, and asking for an agent to visit) this is not considered an unsolicited consumer agreement. In such cases, consumers do not get the same rights, such as a cooling-off period.
However, in these cases, consumers 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 supplier or agent may visit a consumer at any time if the appointment has been made with the consumer's consent.
Rules for door-to-door salespeople
Disclose purpose and show identification
The salesperson must:
- explain up front the purpose of the visit
- show identification, including their name and address
- provide the name and address (not a PO Box) of the supplier the salesperson represents.
Cease to negotiate
A salesperson must also explain that they are required to leave upon the consumer's request.
When a salesperson is told to leave, they must not contact the consumer again for at least 30 days about the particular product or service they were selling during the visit. However, a salesperson can visit the same consumer again about the sale of products from a different supplier.
Inform the consumer
The salesperson must:
- give the consumer a written copy of the sales agreement as soon as it has been signed
- inform the consumer of their cooling-off rights and how they can end the agreement
- not attempt to get the consumer to waive their cooling-off rights.
Read more about cooling off below.
It is an offence to induce, or attempt to induce, consumers to waive their rights.
Supplier responsibility for failing to comply
A supplier cannot enforce an agreement if the supplier’s agent (salesperson) has breached the law on unsolicited consumer agreements – view our Unsolicited consumer agreements page.
Suppliers should ensure their sales agents and other representatives are fully aware of legal obligations when using unsolicited marketing approaches.
Both the supplier and salesperson may be liable for breaches, particularly if the salesperson breached the law regarding the permitted hours, disclosure of purpose and identity, ceasing to negotiate on request and informing the consumer of their termination rights.
Sales agreement document
Consumers must be given a written copy of the agreement as soon as it has been signed.
The agreement document must:
- be transparent - expressed in plain language, legible and clear
- be printed - although any changes may be handwritten (provided these are signed by both parties)
- be signed and dated by the consumer on the front page.
Required inclusion: Cooling-off statement
The document must include the following text on the front page:
Important Notice to the Consumer
You have a right to cancel this agreement within 10 business days from and including the day after you signed or received this agreement.
Details about your additional rights to cancel this agreement are set out in the information attached to this agreement.
Required inclusion: terms, charges and rights
The agreement document must clearly state:
- the consumer’s cooling-off rights (right of termination)
- the full terms of the agreement
- the total price payable, or how this will be calculated
- any postal or delivery charges.
Required inclusion: contact details
An agreement signed by a salesperson on the supplier’s behalf must state:
- that the salesperson is acting on the supplier’s behalf
- the salesperson’s full name
- the salesperson’s business address (not a post office box) or residential address; and
- the salesperson’s email address (if they have one)
- the supplier’s name and business address (not a post office box), or residential address
- the supplier’s email address and fax number (if available).
- the supplier’s Australian Business Number (ABN) or Australian Company Number (ACN)
Provisions that are void
It is unlawful to include or rely on provisions that exclude, limit, modify or restrict:
- a consumer’s right to terminate the agreement
- the effect or operation of the law as it relates to unsolicited consumer agreements.
Cooling off or termination
Consumers have 10 business days to reconsider a door-to-door sales agreement, during which they 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.
Before any agreement is made between the salesperson and the consumer, the salesperson must inform consumers of their cooling-off rights, and how they can exercise their right to terminate the agreement.
The agreement document must be accompanied by a notice that may be used to terminate the agreement (cool off). This notice must include the supplier’s details, including:
- name and business address (not a post office box number)
- ABN or, if they have one, ACN
- fax number and email address, if they have these.
Restrictions during the cooling-off period
During the cooling-off period, a supplier must not:
- supply any products priced over $500 relating to the agreement
- supply services relating to the agreement
- accept or require any form of payment.
Products priced at $500 or less may be supplied, as can electricity or gas to premises not already connected to such services. Products over $500 or services supplied during the cooling-off period are considered unsolicited supplies and consumers are not liable to make any payment for them.
For more information, view our Unsolicited supplies page.
Extended cooling-off period
Consumers 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 disclose 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 cooling-off rights
- 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 products priced over $500 during the 10 business day cooling-off period
- supplied services during the 10 business day cooling-off period, or
- accepted or requested any payment during the 10 business day cooling-off period.
If a consumer cools off or terminates
A consumer may terminate an agreement orally or in writing. The termination date is considered to be the date on which the consumer gave or sent notice.
Once a consumer has 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
- the consumer partly or fully consumed the products or services supplied.
A consumer can use the ACL section 82 cancellation notice for unsolicited agreements (PDF, 106 KB) .
A consumer who cancels an unsolicited agreement also has responsibilities - these are set out on our Rejecting and returning products page.
If a consumer cancels an unsolicited consumer agreement, then any related contract or instrument is also void, which means it is also effectively cancelled.
For products bought on credit or finance, it is the supplier’s responsibility to contact the credit provider and arrange for cancellation. For more information, visit the Australian Securities and Investments Commission website.
Supplier obligations on cooling off
When a consumer cools off, the supplier must promptly return or refund to the consumer any money paid under the agreement or related contract.
A supplier cannot:
- take action against the consumer to recover any payments allegedly owed under the agreement
- place, or threaten to place, the consumer’s name on a list of defaulters or debtors.
What happens to the products or services after a consumer cools off?
The consumer must, within a reasonable time, return any products that have not been consumed or tell the supplier where to collect them. If the supplier does not collect the products within 30 days once notice has been given, the consumer can keep them.
When the agreement is terminated after the cooling off period:
- if a service has already been provided, the consumer may have to pay for it as the service cannot be ‘undone’ once it has been provided
- if the consumer has not taken reasonable care of any products provided to them during that period, the supplier can seek compensation for depreciated value, or for any damage to the goods.
The consumer does not have to pay compensation for normal use of the products or circumstances beyond the consumer’s control.
‘Do not knock’ sticker
Consumers who want to avoid visits from door-to-door salespeople can display a ‘Do not knock’ sticker in a place where it will easily be seen, such as on their gate post or by their front door.
Door-to-door salespeople must not call on consumers who have this sticker prominently displayed.
The sign targets salespeople supplying goods or services for trade or commerce, and does not cover other doorknockers.
Consumers always have the right to ask any unwanted visitors to leave their premises.
Get a ‘Do not knock’ sticker
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