Rules door-to-door salespeople must follow
When you deal with door-to-door salespeople, your rights are different from when you visit a store or shop online. This is because you did not seek out (‘solicit’) the business to buy from them. We call these types of sales 'unsolicited consumer agreements'.
A door-to-door sale is unsolicited when:
- a business or their agent approaches you without your invitation. This is usually at your home but it can also happen in public places like the common area of a shopping centre
- the agreement involves a cost of more than $100, or has an undetermined price.
Door-to-door sellers must obey clear rules around:
- contact hours
- disclosure (what they need to say)
- written agreements
- cooling-off period.
Door-to-door sellers must not approach any residence displaying a do-not-knock notice.
You can make a complaint if they don’t follow these rules.
Door-to-door traders who don’t follow these rules are known as itinerant traders.
The following clip from our Australian Consumer Law film explains your rights if a door-to-door trader visits you.
Door-to-door salespeople must not contact you:
- on a Sunday or public holiday
- before 9 am or after 6 pm on a weekday
- before 9 am or after 5 pm on a Saturday.
These hours apply to all door-to-door sales, even if the agreement is worth less than $100.
Disclosure (what they need to say)
A door-to-door salesperson must:
- explain upfront the purpose of their visit
- produce their identification
- inform you that you can ask them to leave at any time
- leave the premises if you ask them to do so
- explain your cooling-off rights.
If you enter into an agreement, the salesperson must give you a written copy of the agreement. This must:
- be signed
- state that the salesperson is acting on behalf of a business
- outline the total cost, including GST
- include an Unsolicited consumer agreement cancellation notice for cancelling the agreement
- include their contact details.
You have 10 business days to change your mind on a contract. During this time you may cancel without penalty.
You may be able to cancel the contract without penalty up to 6 months after entering into the agreement if the business breaks the rules set out on this page.
During the cooling-off period, businesses may not:
- supply goods, except for those valued under $500
- supply any services at all, regardless of value
- take any payment or deposit, even if they have supplied the goods.
You do not own any goods unless you have paid for them. This is the case even if the business has already supplied them. If you choose to cancel the agreement within the cooling-off period, you must:
- keep the goods in good condition
- make them reasonably available for the business to collect.
The business must collect the goods within 30 days of you cancelling your order. Otherwise, you may keep them free of charge.
The cooling-off period does not apply for emergency repairs. This is only for when the federal or state government have declared a state of emergency.
It can only be about fixing:
- a hazard or potential hazard
- a health and safety risk
- a risk of serious damage to your property.
For example, a builder may offer to fix your roof after a cyclone. However, they still need a current Queensland or Commonwealth licence (such as a builder’s or contractor’s licence).
Be wary of itinerant traders who travel from door to door seeking work. Itinerant traders have no fixed address, but instead move around so they can target new towns and suburbs. Itinerant traders aim many of their operations at older people, who may have trouble maintaining their homes.
If you are approached by somebody you think might be an itinerant trader:
- ask to see a Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) licence (formerly the Queensland Building Services Authority)
- do not pay for anything upfront (even materials)
- decline any offer to drive you to your bank
- demand a receipt with the trader's name and street address on it.
Itinerant traders will try to convince you to hire their services on the spot. This is illegal. All door-to-door salespeople must give you a cooling-off period of 10 business days to change your mind. They must not take any money during the cooling-off period. Nor can they begin any service during this time.
They may try to convince you by:
- telling you a hard-luck story
- claiming to offer a good deal because they 'are in the area'
- claiming they have products 'left over from another job'.
Do not employ any trader who does not have proper identification or contact details. Their work or the goods may not be satisfactory, and you will be unable to contact them to fix the job or provide a refund.
How to recognise an itinerant trader
- usually call uninvited
- prefer cash payments
- do not supply proper receipts or written contracts
- can't show you their identification or a QBCC licence.
A good way to tell that a trader might be itinerant is by looking at their vehicle. Itinerant traders might:
- drive a vehicle without clear business markings (such as sign-writing or decals)
- drive a vehicle with easily removable business markings
- be driving a rental vehicle
- not have a vehicle in view at all.
Stop travelling con men
Report suspected travelling con men to the national hotline on 1300 133 408. Sightings are recorded on an interactive map on the campaign’s Facebook page. You can also stay updated on Twitter with #stopconmen.
If a door-to-door trader works for an energy supplier, they must follow a strict code of conduct for the electricity industry. The code is enforced by the Energy and Water Ombudsman of Queensland (EWOQ).