AGL Fined $1.5 Million For Using Dodgy Door-To-Door Salesmen

There are few things more annoying in life than door-to-door salesman — especially when they wont shut up about why you need to change electricity providers. We therefore felt little sympathy to learn that power company AGL has been hit with a $1.555 million fine for engaging in illegal door-to-door selling practices.

Saleman picture from Shutterstock

Following action by the ACCC, the Federal Court has ordered AGL Sales Pty Ltd and AGL South Australia Pty Ltd to hand over $1.555 million in combined penalties for illegal door-to-door selling practices. AGL's marketing firm CPM Australia Pty Ltd was also slugged with a $200,000 fine for its role in the conduct.

The court found that an AGL door-to-door salesman made a number of misleading and deceptive comments to potential customers, including the claim they were not there to sell anything and false statements about rival energy providers overcharging customers.

An AGL salesperson was also found to have attempted to engage with a consumer despite the presence of a ‘Do Not Knock’ sign on their front door.

In addition to the penalties, the companies were also ordered to pay the ACCC’s court costs and to engage in corrective advertising and compliance programs.

“These significant penalties send a clear message to businesses that do not adhere to their obligations under the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC will not hesitate to take action to protect consumers in their homes from unscrupulous sales tactics and enforce compliance with the laws,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

This is not the first time Australian energy providers have come under fire from the ACCC: in September 2012, Neighbourhood Energy and Australian Green Credits were both ordered to pay penalties of $1 million for similar door-to-door sales conduct.

Under Australian Consumer Law All door-to-door salespeople must adhere to fixed hours: no calls before 9am or after 6pm on weekdays, before 9am or after 5pm on Saturdays, or at any time on Sundays or public holidays. They must provide a clear written statement outlining the total cost of any deal before you sign, and also clearly identify the cooling-off period (a minimum of 10 days) and any termination conditions. If you tell someone to leave, they must not return for 30 days.

As we've noted in the past, the best way to ward off an unwanted salesperson is to simply say "I'm not interested" before they get a chance to launch into their spiel: they are then required by law to leave your property.

See also: A Guide To The New Australian Consumer Protection Laws

[Via ACCC]


Comments

    The court found that an AGL door-to-door salesman made a number of misleading and deceptive comments to potential customers, including the claim they were not there to sell anything

    That's an increasingly common tactic for non-door-to-door sales, as well. There's a particular cosmetics casual lease store in one of the Sydney CBD malls that, if you say no to their product offering, will say "Can I just ask you one question? It's not related to our products or anything", except of course, it is (usually the question is something about your or their eyes, I've found, that leads to a discussion about eye moisturiser or somesuch).

    I find the practice of the guys trying to to get you to sign up for a direct debit for charity disturbingly similar, in that they say "we're not asking for any money", they just want your credit card and other details, and they'll talk to you later to confirm the details you provided (one of which is that you're now paying them $30 p/m).

    Under Australian Consumer Law All door-to-door salespeople...

    The ACCC has a doorknob-hanger that you can order on their site and have posted for free, summarising the door-to-door laws, and even give you the script to tell them to bu$$er off, I think.

    I got one for me and another for my mum, because we both stink at getting rid of door-to-door salespeople.

    Last edited 21/05/13 3:05 pm

      The 'script' I use is the following 4 words: "Not a good time" (close door). Don't apologise. Don't respond to rhetorical questions 'would you like to save?'... Don't waste their time or yours.

        I like to let them give their spiel, since i usually cant get a word in edgewise, and then when they stop like its my turn to talk i tell them im not interested and to have a good day.

        As for the telemarketers, i just hang up as soon as they start talking.

      I've had big issues with charity collectors. 1 in particular. I said "No sorry" to her asking if I'd like to sign up to a monthly $30 donation. Then she told me how selfish I was, how would I like it? A few questions here and there. She wouldn't shut up. So I signed up, then when she left, sent the company an email cancelling my monthly donation.

      I didn't just shut the door after saying "No sorry", as I had an issue doing that with an Optus lady - and I'm with Optus for everything but pay TV (home phone, mobile, Internet), but she wanted me to get pay TV. Once I closed the door, she started knocking again, when I didn't answer, knocked on the window near the door, then on a window at the side of the house. When I went out to tell her to p* off, she asked me "Why aren't you interested? It'll save you money". I said "I don't care", then she wanted to know why I didn't care.

      I have no problem with door-to-door sales persons, if they go away when you tell them to. They're just doing a job, but most won't go away.

        That's trespassing and you'd be well in your rights to call the cops and make a complaint.

      Can I just ask you one question?

      Whenever someone asks me that, I respond with "You just did" and walk off.

    A recent University study of the privatised electricity sector found that the sector has hired large numbers of marketing and salespeople while cutting their technical staff. The total costs of these companies have risen due to all the marketing and sales activity. This is the major reason our power bills are rising.
    Yes privatising utilities increases competition, but competition has not been beneficial. It was assumed it would lower prices and increase efficiency, but instead it has increased prices (who knows about efficiency - that will come in time when we find out if our infrastructure stops working).
    http://www.uow.edu.au/~sharonb/afr-power.html

      Privatising utilities does not decrease prices. When Government owned they only need to break even. Private companies need to make money, so it's break even + their profit.

    You can get Do Not Knock stickers at

    http://transition.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1070453
    and
    http://donotknock.org.au/

    A company that used energy watch and CPM to introduce the main source of their business -with known issues - what does Senior Management at AGL have to say?

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