Your Consumer rights in dealing with salespeople

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We’ve all had the experience: you’re at home and the phone rings. It’s a salesperson with a strong desire to sell you something right now and with an almost bulletproof ability to withstand polite refusals. Or there’s a knock on the door and you open it to find the world’s pushiest salesperson with the world’s best product to sell you. Or how about those people who want to have an over-friendly chat and sell you something in the middle of a shopping centre. What can you do?

Unsolicited consumer agreements

Door-to-door sales, telemarketing sales and other direct sales that don’t take place in a retail setting are called unsolicited consumer agreements. Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumer protections apply to unsolicited consumer agreements, which happen when:

  • they are the result of negotiations which take place over the phone or at a location which is not the seller’s place of business, like your front door or the shopping centre car park;
  • a seller or their sales agent approaches you or phones you uninvited; and
  • the total value is more than $100 (or the value can’t be determined when the offer is made).

Most of the time these unsolicited consumer agreements arise from telemarketing, door-to-door selling, or when you are approached by a salesperson in a shopping centre. But there are other occasions where they might arise. For example, you fill in a competition entry and the seller contacts you to sell you another product or service. Or you return a missed call from an unknown phone number and a salesperson then sells you something.

The rules of an unsolicited consumer agreement

If someone wants to sell you something that falls under the definition of an unsolicited consumer agreement, there are certain rules they must follow:

Sales agents can only knock or phone at certain times and days.

Unless you have agreed beforehand, sales agents are not allowed to knock on your door:

• on a Sunday or a public holiday

• before 9.00am or after 6.00pm on a weekday

• before 9.00am or after 5.00pm on a Saturday.

Telemarketers are not allowed to call you:

• on a Sunday or public holiday

• before 9.00am or after 8.00pm on a weekday

• before 9.00am or after 5.00pm on a Saturday.