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End of the road for door-to-door bitumen trader

3 September 2020

An asphalt contractor and his company have been ordered to pay $50,000 in fines after being taken to court by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Thomas Welsh and his company T.W. Contractors Pty Ltd, were charged after Mr Welsh approached residents in Pie Creek, Two Mile, Chatsworth, and Tamaree near Gympie and offered to reseal their driveways at reduced rates.

Gympie Magistrates Court found Mr Welsh guilty of eight counts of failing to meet the obligations required under the ACL for unsolicited door‑to‑door trading by not advising consumers of their rights to terminate agreements.

The court heard that in May 2019, Mr Welsh of Terrey Hills, NSW, approached four consumers who agreed to have him reseal their driveways with material he advised was left over from a local job.

Under the ACL, consumers have extra rights if they receive unsolicited approaches by traders at their homes. Door-to-door traders must advise consumers about the 10-day cooling-off period and may not accept payment or commence any services during this time.

Once the consumers became aware of their rights, they each submitted notices to cancel the unsolicited consumer agreements and requested refunds totalling over $43,000. Mr Welsh did not respond to any of these requests.

The matter was heard ex-parte as Mr Welsh did not appear. A conviction was recorded.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said traders who go door-to-door and initiate contact with consumers at their homes must follow the rules.

“These rules apply because some unscrupulous traders may use high-pressure sales tactics on people in their homes to convince them to agree to buy products or services,” Mr Bauer said.

“Red flags to look out for include: ‘today only’ deals, cheap offers allegedly based on using up left over materials, asking for immediate cash up-front payment, and offers to drive you to the bank to get cash to pay for the job.

“If you are approached at home and one of these red flags comes up ask them to leave and close your door.  If you ask them to leave your premises they must comply and not return for 30 days.

“If they refuse to leave or harass you in any way, use your phone to take a photo of their number plate and report it to OFT.

“If you don’t want traders to visit your home uninvited, the OFT can provide you with a free Do Not Knock sticker for your door or letterbox. It is illegal for door-to-door traders to ignore Do Not Knock stickers.”

To request a Do Not Knock sticker, or to find more information on door-to-door traders and their obligations under the ACL, you can contact the OFT via their website at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or phone 13 QGOV (13 74 68).