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.