Rash of complaints about salespeople puts the heat on auto industry

Every few months, Consumer Action provides the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) with a set of complaints submitted by consumers via the Make a Complaint Form on the website.

Complaints cover a range of issues—misleading claims, rudeness, door-to-door sales outside the hours permitted for selling. But most commonly the complaint involves a prominent Do Not Knock sticker being ignored.

In the week since the Federal Court decision that found the sticker to be an unambiguous request to leave the premises, we have already received complaints from seven consumers about their stickers being ignored.

Incredibly, four of those were about the one business—ABS Auto Hoppers Crossing in Victoria.  Consumers said that the ABS Auto salesperson implied the sticker didn’t apply to them as a local business, and in another case, didn’t apply to them as they weren’t an energy retailer.  One householder with a Do Not Knock Sticker claimed an ABS Auto salesperson even visited them twice in one day – and once outside the allowable hours for door to door canvassing.

Not only is it annoying for householders and potential customers, it’s potentially a very expensive business model—salespeople can be fined $10,000 and businesses $50,000 for ignoring a request to leave.  At the rate complaints are coming in about ABS Auto, it can only be a matter of time before it comes to the attention of enforcement agencies.

It’s up to businesses to know their responsibilities under the Australian Consumer Law, and we encourage consumers to let us know about any salespeople ignoring their stickers so we can pass this on to the ACCC for enforcement action.

** Since posting this warning, we’ve heard from ABS Auto, who have advised the marketing company responsible that the display of a Do Not Knock sticker is enforceable and door to door marketers must observe the wishes of the resident.  We’ll be watching with interest to see if this solves the problem in the Hoppers Crossing catchment.

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