WA company fined over no cooling off for sales contracts (Modern Solar & Modern Streamline Roller Shutters)
A Wangara company has been fined $7,500 by the Perth Magistrates Court (on 9 May 2014) after pleading guilty to nine charges of violating the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) relating to cooling off periods for unsolicited sales contracts.
Ausfront Pty Ltd, trading as Modern Solar and Modern Streamline Roller Shutters, entered into unsolicited agreements with two consumers in Balga and Gosnells and failed to provide them with the correct information regarding how to terminate the contracts during the compulsory ten business day cooling off period.
In September 2012 a sales agent employed by the company cold-called a Balga pensioner, attending her home the following day and selling her solar panels worth $8,800. The consumer was subjected to high pressure sales tactics and later realised she could not afford the purchase. She sought to cancel the contract but the agent refused.
While the contract referred to a cooling off period, the salesperson failed to provide a notice that the consumer could use to terminate the contract as required by the ACL, and the clause restricted her cooling off rights.
In April 2013 a Gosnells couple made a website request for a free quote on roller shutters and a salesperson later attended their home on a public holiday. Surrendering to high pressure sales tactics, the consumers signed a $6,000 contract. As the original enquiry was inviting a quote only, the sales contract became subject to the ‘unsolicited consumer agreement’ provisions of the ACL.
In this case, the salesperson failed to provide any information or a notice regarding the consumer’s cooling off rights.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Gary Newcombe, said businesses need to review their sales contracts and practices to ensure they comply completely with consumer law.
“Clauses in sales contracts cannot conflict with the rights of consumers which are enshrined in law and those clauses are considered void if they attempt to restrict these rights,” Mr Newcombe said.
“The ‘unsolicited consumer agreement’ or door to door trading provisions of the ACL are designed to protect consumers, particularly those who are being sold products in their home who may be subjected to high pressure sales tactics and are not given the time to think clearly about their purchase, which in these cases involved considerable amounts of money.
“Under these circumstances, while contracts can be signed during visits to a consumer’s home, no payments can be received and no goods can be delivered or services carried out until the ten business day cooling off period expires.
“Businesses who flaunt this law face serious consequences in terms of prosecution action and damage to their reputation in the marketplace.”
Further information about unsolicited consumer agreements is available on the Consumer Protection website: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumerprotection. Enquiries can be made by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 1300 30 40 54.
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(Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Commerce)
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