08 April 2012

Do Not Knock sticker to stop door-to-door sellers under new laws

KNOCK, knock: A simple ``Do Not Knock''
sticker will be enough to prevent marketers
 from entering a property.
ANNOYING door-to-door salespeople will soon be stopped from hounding householders.

Under new laws to take effect mid-year, a simple "Do Not Knock'' sticker will be enough to prevent marketers from entering a property and pestering the occupants. Salespeople who ignore the signs will face prosecution, a range of fines and other penalties.

The stickers are already available from the Queensland Government and consumer groups, but there is uncertainty over their legal force.

A landmark legal case next month will clarify the situation. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched court cases against three energy retailers and their companies to clarify the legal standing of "Do Not Knock'' stickers.

The actions, to be heard in the Federal Court in May and June, allege the firms engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in the course of door-to-door selling and breached consumer law by failing to immediately leave the premises at the request of the occupier.
The ACCC contends that the fact the householders had placed the signs on their door constituted a request to leave.

Whatever the outcome, all doubt will be removed by July 1 - the target date for states to implement the new National Energy Customer Framework which includes greater consumer protections.

Queensland Consumers' Association spokesman Ian Jarratt said the new legislation strengthened existing Queensland codes by stating clearly that marketers must obey the stickers.

Pressure is also growing for a national "Do Not Knock'' register similar to the existing "Do Not Call'' register which prevents unsolicited telephone marketing. 

New research shows 85 per cent of people support the idea of such a national register.

More than three-quarters of respondents to the Consumer Action Law Centre survey found people dislike the door-to-door marketing tactic, which is used most often by power companies and other utility companies.

Consumer Action policy and campaigns director Gerard Brody said the commission-driven nature of the sales technique often led to high-pressure and misleading tactics, resulting in homeowners signing up for inferior deals.

A third of people surveyed said they had later regretted a deal done with a door-to-door marketer.

Some 69 per cent of people said they had received such a visit in the past two years, rising to 80 per cent in areas like southeast Queensland where there is competition between energy companies.


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