The small business specialists
Phone: 13 12 49
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) has introduced new rules around 'unsolicited consumer agreements'.
An agreement is likely to be an 'unsolicited consumer agreement' if during the negotiations the price of the good/ service was not discussed, or if it was discussed it was agreed that the price was over $100 and either of the following happened:
For more information on and examples of unsolicited consumer agreements, see the Department of Commerce's website. As is the case with all consumer rights, under the ACL you cannot require a consumer to waive their rights in relation to unsolicited consumer agreements.
New rules about contacting consumers by telephone and by personal visit have also been introduced.
Businesses cannot cold call or send marketing faxes to consumers:
It is important to remember that 'consumers' may also be other businesses.
Businesses cannot visit consumers without an appointment at their home or business to sell a good or service:
There are certain rules that must be followed when visiting consumers at their home or business during the allowed times. You must:
Similarly, if a salesperson is engaged to sell products or services on behalf of the business, they must also provide the consumer with their details (name, business address, email address), show their identification and tell the consumer who they are representing. More information on the requirements that salespeople must follow can be found on the Department of Commerce website.
When an unsolicited agreement is made with a consumer, there are rules that you must follow under the ACL in relation to the agreement and cooling off period.
As the business owner or representative, you must give the consumer a copy of the written agreement either immediately when dealing face-to-face with the consumer or within five (5) business days if dealing with the consumer over the telephone.
There are also specific rules about the structure and content of the agreement, which must be:
Changes to the agreement may be hand written, however any changes must be signed by the business owner/ representative and the consumer.
1. This statement on the front page of the document:
"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."
2. The full terms and conditions of the agreement:
A compulsory minimum cooling off period applies to unsolicited consumer agreements. Some of the important things about the cooling off period and consumer rights include:
The Department of Commerce has more information on the cooling off period and consumer rights.
It is important that business owners and their employees follow the rules covering unsolicited consumer agreements. Failure to do so may extend the consumer's right to terminate the agreement by up to six (6) months. For example, a consumer has the right to terminate an unsolicited consumer agreement up to three (3) months after it was made, if the business or its representative:
The consumer's right to terminate an unsolicited agreement will be extended to six (6) months after the agreement was made, if the business or its representative: