A solar and air-conditioning marketing business in north Queensland has paid a penalty of $10,800 following an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
The director of Oz Solar Needs Pty Ltd and an employee entered the Indigenous community of Yarrabah and township of Laura in early May 2017 and signed up a number of consumers to contracts to have air conditioning units installed in their homes.
The OFT began investigating Oz Solar Needs after a referral from the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN). The investigation found the Oz Solar Needs contracts and business practices breached the door-to-door trading provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
Under the ACL, door-to-door traders are required to provide a written contract to consumers, including a notice informing consumers they have a cooling-off period of 10 business days, which they can exercise to cancel the contract and get a full refund. Oz Solar failed to advise consumers of their cooling-off rights or provide the cancellation notice.
Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said Oz Solar Needs had taken advantage of consumers and their non-compliance with ACL provisions reinforced the need for ongoing education and awareness in remote communities. “Yarrabah became a Do not knock informed community in May this year, to combat the precise type of conduct exhibited by Oz Solar Needs,” Mr Bauer said.
“The Do not knock informed communities program began in Wujal Wujal last year, and sees roadside signage erected to remind door-to-door traders of their legal obligations.”
“Residents can opt-out of all door-to-door trading approaches by placing a ‘Do not knock’ notice or sticker outside their home.”
Regardless, consumers have special rights when it comes to receiving unsolicited approaches by traders in their homes. These laws are in place in recognition of the increased consumer vulnerability when door knocked.
“The OFT will continue to investigate and take action against door-to-door traders who flout their legal obligations, and the Do not knock informed communities program expands to other communities across Queensland,” Mr Bauer said.
To order a ‘Do not knock’ sticker or to report a door-to-door trader breaching consumer law, visit www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.