Most people we hear from don’t care about the legal standing of the Do Not Knock sticker – it keeps pushy salespeople from knocking on their door and that’s all that really matters.
And we reckon that’s fair enough – enjoy the peace and quiet and go about your business undisturbed.
But for those who are a little more inquisitive, we thought we’d put together a little background on why the sticker makes it ‘unlawful’ for salespeople to knock on your door.
The short version:
A salesperson who ignores your Do Not Knock sticker is:
- breaking the Australian Consumer Law and the company they represent could be fined up to $50,000 by a court, and
- committing trespass.
The longer version:
Australian Consumer Law
The Australian Consumer Law requires that a salesperson must leave the premises immediately on the request of:
(a) the occupier of the premises, or any person acting with the actual or apparent authority of the occupier; or
(b) the person (the prospective consumer) with whom the negotiations are being conducted.
Failing to comply with requirements can lead to maximum civil and criminal penalties of $50,000 for a body corporate and $10,000 for an individual.
In September 2012, the Federal Court declared that Neighbourhood Energy and Australian Green Credits had breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) as its sales representatives had ignored a visible Do Not Knock sticker. This decision means that displaying a Do Not Knock sticker amounts to a request to leave under the ACL.
This is the first case to be brought under the Unsolicited Consumer Agreement provisions of the ACL, and was initially brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in March 2012 against three energy retailers and the marketing companies engaged by them.
In the Neighbourhood Energy decision, in addition to the Do Not Knock sticker issue, the court found a number of other breaches of the ACL, and the companies involved consented to pay a total penalty of $1 million for illegal door-to-door selling practices.
The effect of the Court’s order is that every time a salesperson ignores a visible ‘do not knock’ sign on a consumer’s door, the company they represent is exposed to a maximum penalty of $50,000
When we first published the Do Not Knock website, well before the Federal Court’s decision against that Neighbourhood Energy and Australian Green Credits, we argued that salespeople ignoring a Do Not Knock sticker were committing trespass.
Trespass involves deliberately or carelessly doing something that directly causes interference with someone else’s land – the most common example is when you go onto someone else’s land without their permission.
In day-to-day life, there’s an implied licence that allows salespeople to enter public parts of your property, such as the driveway or path—so walking to your door doesn’t amount to trespass on its own.
However, back in 1984, the High Court decided that the implied licence will only exist if “there is no notice or other indication that entry by visitors generally or particularly designated visitors is forbidden or unauthorised”, and that a simple keep out sign is enough to void this implied licence.
Basically, people can knock on your door unless you’ve displayed a keep out sign.
Based on this finding, we argued that ignoring a Do Not Knock sticker amounted to unlawful trespass.