Consumer Action believes that that a salesperson who ignores a Do Not Knock sticker is breaking the law by committing trespass – after all, they’re entering your property despite a direct request not to do so. But we understand that prosecuting a salesperson along these lines is not an easy task and would take up a lot of time and effort.
However, if the Government was to make ignoring the sticker a specific offence under Australian Consumer Law, holding salespeople to account would be made that much easier, and the fines they would be subject to would be significant – as much as $10,000 for individuals and $50,000 for businesses.
Currently, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is unclear as to whether ignoring a “Do Not Knock” sticker is a breach of that law. Section 75 of the ACL provides:
(1) A dealer who calls on a person at any premises for the purpose of negotiating an unsolicited consumer agreement, or for an incidental or related purpose, 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.
While it has not been judicially considered, this section implies that the request must be provided verbally and it would be insufficient for a “Do Not Knock” sticker or sign to amount to a “request”.
We believe that a simple amendment could be made to the ACL which would provide that a salesperson who ignores a “Do Not Knock” sticker may be in breach of section 75. This could be achieved by deeming the existence of a clearly affixed “Do Not Knock” sticker or sign a “request to leave” for the purposes of section 75.
We’ve written to the Federal Government, as well as the relevant state ministers, outlining our position and we look forward to their responses in due course.