Federal Court Justice John Middleton has determined it illegal for door-to-door salespeople to ignore “do not knock” signs when visiting Australian homes.
The court today ruled against energy provider AGL and its marketing firm CPM Australia in a March 2012 court case filed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Under Australian Consumer Law:
A dealer who calls on a person at any premises for the purpose of negotiating an unsolicited consumer agreement, or for an incidental or related purpose, must leave the premises immediately on the request of
(a) the occupier of the premises, or any person acting with the actual or apparent authority of the occupier; or
(b) the person (the prospective consumer) with whom the negotiations are being conducted.
Justice Middleton today said the companies broke the law when a salesperson visited a South Australian home in November 2011, because there was sign on the front door with an image of a fist knocking with a line through it and the words “DO NOT KNOCK Unsolicited door-to-door selling not welcome here”.
In door-to-door selling, “consumers do not have the option of walking away from the sales situation and may feel threatened to agree to an offer simply to put that situation to an end,” he said.
“The provision is directed at unsolicited visits by salespersons to consumers in their homes and is designed to protect consumers due to the inherent vulnerability of the relationship.”
The ACCC said today’s judgement confirmed that consumers could use a sign to request uninvited salespeople to leave. The commission’s case against AGL was part of a wider campaign against energy retailers’ door-to-door selling practices.
Earlier this year, Justice Middleton also fined AGL and CPM $1.555 million and $200,000 respectively for other illegal selling practices, including making false representations to consumers.
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