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/Factsheet_print/Consumers/Ways_to_shop/_Unsolicited_consumer_agreements.pdf
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Standard fact sheet.
/Factsheet_largeprint/Consumers/Ways_to_shop/_Unsolicited_consumer_agreements.pdf
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Large print fact sheet.

Unsolicited consumer agreements 

What is an unsolicited consumer agreement? 

An unsolicited agreement occurs when:

  • a supplier/salesperson approaches or telephones you without you having invited this contact and
  • negotiations take place over the phone, or in person at a location other than the supplier’s premises and
  • the total value of any agreement made as a result of the contact is more than $100, or the value was not ascertainable at the time the agreement was made.

The law gives you certain protections when you agree to buy something from a seller who uses unsolicited marketing approaches. One of the key protections is a cooling-off period of 10 business days during which you can reconsider the purchase.

Examples of unsolicited consumer agreements

Some typical examples of unsolicited approaches include when a salesperson:

  • knocks on your door offering to sell you goods or services, or invites you to switch to a different service provider
  • telephones to sell you goods or services
  • approaches you in the common area of a shopping centre to sell you goods or services
  • leaves a missed call message on your answering machine for you to respond.

The following situations may also be considered unsolicited approaches:

  • If you fill out an entry form to a competition that is sponsored by a supplier, and one of the conditions of entry is that you agree to be contacted by the supplier about new product information. In this case, any subsequent contact with you from a supplier who is seeking to sell you goods or services would still be considered unsolicited.
  • If you ask a trader to provide a quote (such as measuring for blinds). Again, you have not invited the trader to enter into negotiations to sell you something, so if the trader does attempt to negotiate with you at the time of providing a quote, or later contacts you to negotiate a deal, then a resulting agreement would be considered an unsolicited consumer agreement. But, if the trader leaves a quote with you for deliberation and you then approach the trader to accept the quote or negotiate different terms, then this would not be considered an unsolicited consumer agreement.

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What is not an unsolicited consumer agreement? 

Agreements that are not unsolicited consumer agreements do not offer consumers the same protection under the law and may not be covered by a cooling-off period.

The following kinds of agreements are not unsolicited consumer agreements:

  • Business contracts for the supply of goods or services that are not normally acquired for personal or household use.
  • Discontinued negotiations agreements – when a consumer stops negotiations with a supplier for an unsolicited consumer agreement then at a later stage approaches the same supplier to enter into such an agreement.
  • Agreements made during a party plan event.
  • Renewable agreements of the same kind – where a consumer and supplier enter another agreement to continue the supply of the same kind of goods or services supplied under an existing agreement.
  • Subsequent agreements of the same kind – where goods and services are supplied under an agreement, and within 3 months of their supply, the consumer and supplier enter one or more other agreements for the supply of the same kind of goods and services, worth no more than $500.

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Permitted hours for contacting you 

Telemarketing

Telemarketing calls cannot be made on:

  • weekdays – before 9am or after 8pm
  • Saturdays – before 9am or after 5pm
  • Sundays or public holidays.

Visiting you

A salesperson must not visit you on:

  • weekdays – before 9am or after 6pm
  • Saturdays – before 9am or after 5pm
  • Sundays or public holidays.

However, a salesperson may visit you at any time with your consent.

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If a trader visits you 

If a salesperson approaches you, other than by telephone, then they must:

  • clearly explain upfront the purpose of the visit and provide identification (a name and address) 
  • explain that they are obliged to leave immediately if you ask them to do so. (Note: If you ask them to leave they must not contact you again for at least 30 days unless they return representing a different supplier)
  • inform you about your cooling-off rights.

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If a trader telephones or visits you  

The contract

If you agree to buy something from a telemarketer or a salesperson who contacts you, you must be given a written copy of the contract:

  • as soon as it has been signed, for face-to-face sales
  • within 5 business days (or longer if you agree), for agreements negotiated over the telephone.

The contract must be:

  • expressed in plain language, legible and clear
  • printed (although any changes may be handwritten) and signed by both parties.

The contract must clearly state:

  • your cooling-off rights (right of termination)
  • the full terms of the agreement
  • the total price payable, or how this will be calculated and
  • any postal or delivery charges.

Cooling-off

Salespeople must inform you of your cooling-off rights. They must also give you a form that you may use if you wish to terminate the contract (cool-off).

Waivers

A salesperson must not encourage you to waive your rights. Waivers are not permitted under the law and would have no effect in any case.

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Your cooling-off/termination rights 

By law, you have 10 business days to reconsider the contract (unsolicited consumer agreement). During this time you can cancel the contract without penalty. This is called the cooling-off period.

If the agreement was negotiated over the phone, the cooling-off period begins on the first business day after you received the contract.

If the agreement was not negotiated over the phone, the cooling-off period begins on the first business day after the contract was made (signed by both parties to the contract).

During the 10 business day cooling-off period, the trader must not supply any goods or services or accept any payment from you. If the trader does supply goods or services during the cooling-off period then these would be considered unsolicited supplies.

*If the total contract price is less than $500 and the supply is for goods only, the purchaser may receive some or all of the goods and you still have the right to cancel the contract.

Extended cooling-off period

You may terminate an agreement up to 3 months after it is made (or after the contract is received, if the agreement is by phone) if the salesperson:

  • visited you outside of the permitted selling hours
  • did not disclose the purpose of the visit
  • did not produce identification or
  • did not leave the premises upon request.

The period is extended to 6 months if a salesperson:

  • did not provide your with information about the cooling-off period or
  • was in breach of other requirements for unsolicited consumer agreements (such as failing to provide a written copy of the agreement, not including required information in the written agreement, or supplying goods or services during the cooling-off period).

Terminating an agreement

A consumer may terminate an agreement orally or in writing. The termination date is considered to be the date on which notice of termination was given or sent by the consumer.

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What happens if you cool-off or terminate  

If you notify the trader within the cooling-off period that you wish to cancel the contact, then the contract is cancelled as of the date you gave that notice. The notice is effective even if:

  • written notice has been given but the trader has not received it
  • goods or services supplied to you have been wholly or partly consumed/used.

Related contracts

If you cancel a contract (unsolicited consumer agreement) then any related contract is also cancelled.

For example, you agree to buy a $900 washing machine from a door-to-door trader, and also sign a separate contract for servicing the washing machine, costing $80. This second contract is not covered by the cooling-off provisions but if you cool-off on the washing machine purchase then the service contract is also cancelled.

Refund entitlement

If you cool-off, the supplier must promptly return or refund to you any money paid under the contract or a related contract.

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What happens to the goods/services after you cool-off? 

After the cooling-off period:

  • you must, within a reasonable time, return any goods that have not been consumed or tell the supplier where to collect them
  • if you have not taken reasonable care of the goods, the supplier can seek compensation for depreciated value
  • you do not have to pay compensation for normal use of the goods or circumstances beyond your control
  • if the supplier does not collect the goods within 30 days of termination, then you can keep them
  • if you cancel the contract after the cooling-off period and a service has already been provided, you may have to pay for the service. Obviously, the service can’t be undone once it has been provided.

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