01.Shonky energy door-to-door practices
The ACCC has launched a new initiative to help consumers with unscrupulous and unwanted door-to-door sales tactics.
The action follows an in-depth report which examined the size and practices of the industry for the first time. The report exposes the wide-spread use of door-knocking sales tactics, with every household in Australia being door-knocked on average eight times a year.
It also found that energy companies were by far the most prevalent users of door-knocking sales. Of the 1.3 million door-knocking sales conducted last year, approximately 1 million were related to energy services.
In response, the ACCC is providing do-not-knock stickers which can be placed on front doors and gates, as well as door hangers which remind consumers of their rights should a salesperson come to their door. Under the Australian Consumer Law, a salesperson must leave if requested to do so by a consumer.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims also issued a warning to the industry.
"In September 2011 I placed the industry on notice when I said at the ACOSS & CHOICE
Energy at Home Forum that I had read too many accounts of bad, even appalling conduct
for there not to be any real substance behind many of these complaints”, says Mr Sims,“ The ACCC … will not hesitate to take court action against companies or their sales agents who dupe consumers or don't abide by the rules."
Previous ACCC action against door-to-door sales
The ACCC has previously taken action against three energy retailers and the marketing companies they employ, or employed, to door-knock.
The proceedings were against AGL Sales, AGL South Australia and marketing company CPM Australia. There were also separate proceedings against Neighbourhood Energy (which is part of the Alinta group) and its former marketing company Australian Green Credits.
The ACCC alleged that each of the energy retailers and marketing companies engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, and that AGL Sales and CPM Australia made a range of false representations.
Federal Labor MP Steve Georganas also recently introduced legislation to the Federal Parliament calling for the creation of a do-not-knock register.
Know your Rights
CHOICE has previously raised concerns about the difficulties that consumers face when switching energy providers. This includes systemic issues with commercial switching sites and the behaviour of door-knockers.
If you have any experiences about door-to-door sales people that you would like to share, please leave a comment below.
If you are interested in shopping around for a new electricity deal, have a look at CHOICE’s tips. You can also sign a petition being run by our friends at the Consumer Action Law Centre, and read up on your rights in regard to door-to-door sales.
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