Door-to-door & telemarketing sales

If your business approaches consumers directly to secure a sale, such as at their door, over the phone, or in a public place, there are certain obligations you need to comply with.

Unsolicited consumer agreements

If your business engages in sales methods such as door-to-door sales, telemarketing, or approaching customers in public places such as shopping centres, consumers have additional protections under the Australian Consumer Law when you approach them.

Under the law, these types of sales are called ‘unsolicited consumer agreements’.

An unsolicited consumer agreement takes place when:

  • it results from negotiations by phone or at a location other than the seller’s place of business, and
  • a seller, or their sales agent, approaches or calls a customer uninvited, and
  • the total value is more than $100 (or cannot be determined when the agreement is made).

Unsolicited agreements can also occur if:

  • a customer provides their contact details to a salesperson for one purpose (for example, a competition entry), and the salesperson then contacts them for the purpose of selling another product or service
  • a customer responds to any unsuccessful attempt by the trader to contact the customer (for example, the customer returns a missed call).

When to contact the customer

Telemarketing calls cannot be made:

  • on a Sunday or public holiday
  • before 9 am or after 8 pm on a weekday
  • before 9 am or after 5 pm on a Saturday.

Permitted hours for telemarketing are regulated under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 and associated telemarketing standards.

Uninvited house visits, in person by a supplier, their sales person or dealer, cannot be made during the following times:

  • 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.

However, if the salesperson makes an appointment over the phone or in writing beforehand, they can visit at the time of the appointment. 

What to do before making a sales pitch

Before making a sales pitch, as a salesperson you must:

  • inform the consumer of the purpose of your visit
  • provide the consumer with identification. The identification must include your name and the contact details of the business that you represent
  • inform the consumer that they can request you to leave and that you are required to leave their premises at their request
  • leave the consumer’s premises immediately if the consumer requests you to do so.

Requests to leave

If you are requested to leave or there is a 'do not knock' sticker on the door, you must do so immediately—it is unlawful for you to stay. You must not contact the consumer again on behalf of the same seller for at least 30 days for the purpose of negotiating an unsolicited consumer agreement (or for an incidental or related purpose).

Negotiating a sale

As a salesperson you must:

  • inform your customer of their rights to cancel the agreement (the cooling off period)
  • ensure that you and the customer sign the agreement and any amendments to the agreement
  • provide the customer with a written copy of the agreement immediately after signing.

Information the sales agreement must include

Any unsolicited consumer agreement must:

  • be written in clear and plain language that is easily understood
  • include all terms in full
  • include the total cost to the customer (including GST if applicable), or how this will be calculated if the total cost is unknown at the time of making the agreement
  • include any postal or delivery charges the customer will have to pay
  • contain the sales agent’s name and contact details
  • include the seller’s contact details (their physical business address, email and fax number) and ABN or ACN
  • be signed by the customer and the salesperson
  • be legible or printed, although any changes may be hand written and signed
  • contain information about the customer’s rights to cancel the agreement including a notice on the front page
  • be accompanied by a notice that the customer can use to terminate the contract
  • the front page of the sales agreement must be signed by the customer, include the date it was signed and contain the following text:
    • ‘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’.

Customer rights to cancel the sales agreement

A customer has 10 business days to cancel the unsolicited sales agreement – for any reason – without penalty. This is known as the ‘cooling off period’.

The cooling off period is calculated from the beginning of the first business day after the day on which the customer signed the agreement.

The cooling off period can be extended to three months if the sales agent:

  • approached the customer outside the permitted hours
  • did not disclose the purpose of their visit or their identity
  • did not leave when the customer requested.

The cooling off period can be extended to six months if the sales agent:

  • did not tell the customer about the cooling off period
  • did not provide a copy of the agreement to the customer
  • provided services within the cooling off period or provided goods that cost over $500 within the cooling off period.

Third parties

Companies are liable for non-compliant behaviour by a sales agent – it is no excuse that a third party has been engaged to perform the selling.

Make sure the rules are being followed:

  • Implement a comprehensive and effective training program to ensure that staff understand and know how to uphold their legal obligations
  • Develop a compliance monitoring system to assess whether breaches are occurring
  • Check your sales agreements to ensure they contain all the required information to comply with the law.

Check your sales agreements

Check your sales agreements to ensure they contain all the required information to comply with the law. Make sure your sales agents are trained and aware of their rights and responsibilities when direct selling.

More information

Door-to-door and telemarketing - for consumers
Sales practices: a guide for businesses and legal practitioners