Solar company fined after breaking ‘cooling off’ laws (Polaris Solar Pty Ltd)
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A solar company has been fined a total of $15,000 by the Midland Magistrates Court for breaking laws relating to the rights of consumers to a cooling off period and for making a false or misleading representation on promotional leaflets.
Polaris Solar Pty Ltd (in liquidation) was convicted on 16 November 2015 of committing four offences against the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) for failing to comply with a number of requirements concerning a ten day cooling off period after contacting two consumers at their Aveley home in February 2013 as part of a telemarketing campaign.
Three days after being contacted, a sales representative from the company visited the consumers at their home where a contract for the supply and installation of solar panels was signed and credit card details were obtained. A $1,000 deposit was deducted from the credit card account the following day.
The company’s offences against the ACL involved failing to inform the consumers about their right to terminate the contract during the cooling off period, failing to give them instructions about how they could cancel the contract within that period and by accepting the $1000 deposit payment before the cooling off period expired.
Polaris Solar Pty Ltd was also convicted of committing an offence against the ACL for making a false or misleading representation by printing the logo of the Housing Industry Association on promotional leaflets distributed in the Willetton area, while the company was not a member of the HIA.
The Magistrate ordered the company, which went into liquidation in May 2014 and has ceased trading, to pay costs of $1,200.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said companies and their sales staff that approach consumers uninvited should be aware of their obligations under the ACL.
“There are clear rules set out by the ACL which traders and their sales staff must follow when approaching consumers without a direct invitation,” Mr Newcombe said.
“If sales representatives are approaching consumers uninvited, companies should ensure that their staff are properly trained and informed about the laws relating to unsolicited consumer agreements. They should also ensure their contracts have the necessary information relating to the consumer’s right to cancel within the ten business day cooling off period.
“Consumers should also be aware that they can exercise their right to cancel a contract during the cooling off period if they have been approached uninvited and are having second thoughts about their purchase.
“If a sales agent is invited to a consumer’s home, but only to supply a quote, these laws still apply. Only if a consumer invites a sales agent knowing that they are prepared to sign a contract, can money change hands and the goods or services be delivered without a cooling off period.
“It is also a serious offence for a company to mislead consumers by using the logo of a professional association in their advertising when they do not have current membership of that association.”
More information on unsolicited consumer agreements, or door to door trading, is available at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/doortodoor. General information on the ACL is available at www.consumerlaw.gov.au. Enquiries can be made by contacting Consumer Protection by email: email@example.com or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
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