Consumer Action’s legal service was recently contacted by a complainant who ran into trouble when he sought to exercise his rights to an extended cooling off period, after an encounter with a door-to-door energy salesperson.
Ordinarily, for unsolicited consumer agreements, consumers are entitled to a cooling off period of 10 business days in which they can change their mind and cancel the contract. Consumers can also cancel the contract within three or six months if the supplier has not met certain obligations.
Section 82(3)(c) of the Australian Consumer Law says that an agreement can be terminated up to three months after it is made if a breach of section 75 has occurred. Section 75 requires a salesperson cease to negotiate on request.
The recent Federal Court decision in ACCC v Neighbourhood Energy  FCA 268 found that ignoring a Do Not Knock sticker constituted a request to cease negotiation. Accordingly, the complainant understood his right to terminate the agreement to be within three months of making it, not 10 business days.
Consumers who have found themselves in this situation, and want to exit a contract, should complain to their retailer and, if the complaint isn’t resolved, should complain to the Energy Ombudsman service in their state.