The inventor of the Do Not Knock sticker has welcomed a Federal Court ruling that the sticker is legally enforceable under the Australian Consumer Law. The decision means ignoring the sticker could lead to a fine of $10,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a business.
Consumer Action Law Centre developed the sticker in response to the huge number of cases it was seeing where door-to-door salespeople had mislead or pressured families into deals which often left them worse off.
‘Today’s Federal Court decision sends a clear message to door-to-door salespeople across the nation – Australians have a right to enjoy their personal time without the unwanted distraction of salespeople,’ said Gerard Brody, CEO of Consumer Action.
‘The court found that the sticker “was an unambiguous request to leave the premises”. Justice Middleton found that the picture of the fist together with the words Do Not Knock were sufficient,’ said Mr Brody.
Justice Middleton said that it did not matter if a consumer does not verbally request the salesperson to leave, ‘the whole idea of a Do Not Knock Sign was to avoid confronting a salesperson, and being caught in discussion. Consumers may be vulnerable, or too polite to tell people to leave. Putting an appropriate sign on the door may be the best, or only way, to communicate the request to leave the premises.’
Consumer Action and community legal centres Australia wide have documented cases of door-to-door salespeople:
· selling to the elderly, people with dementia and people who don’t speak English,
· refusing to leave when asked,
· targeting refugee and remote indigenous communities,
· deliberately misleading consumers; and
· forging signatures as part of fraudulent sales.
Mr Body said the popularity of the sticker was a great example of what community legal centres can achieve. ‘Community legal centres have their ears to the ground and are often the first to know what businesses or industries are causing trouble. We saw salespeople taking advantage of vulnerable consumers, came up with a practical response, and have now distributed over 300,000 Do Not Knock stickers across Australia.’
‘The groundswell of support our Do Not Knock campaign received has led major energy retailers to stop door-to-door sales, it’s helped the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) take enforcement action and, most importantly, it has saved thousands of people from dodgy deals,’ said Mr Brody.
Consumer Action appreciates the ACCC’s efforts to clean up door-to-door sales, and congratulates its team on this success of this case.
Consumers in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, or the ACT can ask energy retailers to put you on a ‘no contact’ by visiting http://donotknock.org.au/no-contact/.