It’s after six – go away!
We’ve all experienced it; salespeople turning up on the doorstep when we’re eating dinner or putting the kids to bed. Restaurant deals, phone company specials, late night calls from telemarketers.
All power to them; they have a job to do. But who wants to be accosted in the evening after a hard day’s work?
You may be relieved to know that the law changed in January 2011. Salespeople can no longer knock on your door after 6pm on weekdays or call after 8pm. And not at all on Sundays.
And if you do agree to buy something from a door-to-door salesperson or telemarketer there’s now a 10 business day cooling-off period. So if you change your mind in that time there’s no penalty.
They’re just a couple of the many changes that were made to consumer laws earlier this year. The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) replaced all previous state-based consumer legislation. It means the same rights apply for consumers anywhere in Australia.
A key change is the introduction of the “consumer guarantee”. It clears up the process for resolving problems related to defective goods or services. In the past, if you took a faulty product back to the shop where you bought it you’d probably be passed on to the manufacturer. But the consumer guarantee means that suppliers are obliged to handle the problem. Minor faults can be sorted out by way of repairs, replacement or a refund. If it’s a major problem (eg. it can’t be fixed or it’s unsafe), the consumer may choose a refund, replacement or compensation. Suppliers then go to the manufacturer to sort out their own loss.
The law cracks down on the use of unfair terms in standard form contracts, and false or misleading claims by suppliers. There are also clearer guidelines about unsafe products, including mandatory reporting of incidents involving injury or death.
Suppliers must provide proof of a transaction, such as a receipt, and give you an itemised bill of services if you ask. And faulty goods bought on sale must be treated the same way as they would if you’d paid full price.
Time will tell how well businesses comply with the ACL. The penalties are tougher than before but it depends how it’s enforced. That’s the responsibility of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and each state’s consumer protection office (in NSW it’s the Office of Fair Trade).
At the end of the day it’s about empowering the consumer.
So if someone knocks on your door at 6.01pm with a “great deal”, you can gently inform them the office is closed. And if a shop refuses to provide a solution for a dud product they sold you, demand your rights. The law is behind you.
For more information, please see Welcome to the 2021 Shonky Awards.