Contact Consumer Protection
Tel: 1300 30 40 54
See all Consumer Protection office locations
Unsolicited supplies occur when goods or services are supplied to a person who has not agreed to purchase or receive them. There is no obligation by the consumer to pay for these.
It is an offence for a supplier to:
Businesses often provide goods or services to consumers as a way of exposing consumers to the brand, product or service.
Examples of this are free product samples sent in the mail, or door knocking households and offering to clean their windows as part of a free product demonstration. In these cases there is no expectation for the consumer to pay for the goods or services.
For example, a trader cannot demand payment for items, (such as books, magazines or DVDs) posted to a consumer, if the consumer never requested them.
Businesses must not issue an invoice for unsolicited goods or services supplied unless it contains the required warning statement – “This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money”. This warning statement must be the most prominent text on the document.
In the event of a dispute, the business operator would need to prove they have a legitimate right to demand the payment.
False billing and unsolicited invoices can be actual offers from companies for services like advertising, domain renewals, offering overseas registration or listing in government or other directories.
The business is not doing anything illegal, so long as these offers, samples or ‘free trials’ contain the warning statement required by the ACL – "This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money". This warning statement must be the most prominent text on the document. There are however many scams that operate in a similar way, like sending false bills to businesses and hoping that the organisation is too busy to check and they just send the money.
Remember, if you have not agreed to buy or receive the goods or service, it is unlawful for a business to request payment.
Consumer Protection have prepared a factsheet to help you better understand this type of unlawful activity and what you can do if you think you have paid a false bill.
A consumer arranges for a car repairer to replace the muffler on her car. When she returns to collect the car the repairer says the tyres and brake pads also needed replacing, so he made the replacements and added an extra $1,200 to the bill. The work done in addition to replacing the muffler would be considered unsolicited and the consumer is not liable to make any payment for this. If the repairer had phoned the consumer for authorisation to replace the tyres and brake pads and the consumer agreed, then these components would not have been unsolicited.
If a business provides unsolicitied goods or services:
It is unlawful to ask for payment for an entry or advertisement relating to a person or their profession, business, trade or occupation, that was not first authorised by the person or business concerned.
An advertisement or entry is authorised when the person, business or their nominee has signed a document that:
It is possible to send an invoice for an unauthorised entry or advertisement, if it contains the warning statement required by the ACL Regulations – "This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money". This warning statement must be the most prominent text on the document.
Generally, an issuer must not send unsolicited debit cards or credit cards (including store-branded credit cards and store account cards) to a person unless:
An item is considered to be a credit card if it is intended to be used to obtain cash, goods or services on credit.
An item is considered to be a debit card if it is intended to be used to access an account held by the consumer for the purpose of withdrawing or depositing cash or obtaining goods or services.
More information about unsolicited credit and debit cards is available in Regulatory Guide 201 from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Remember there are allocated times which you are allowed to contact consumers.