Unsolicited Consumer Agreements and Cancellation Rights: What Telemarketers Need to Know.

For telemarketers, making several calls a day is just a small part of the job. The challenge and the reward lie in successfully clinching a deal or generating potential leads for the organisation they represent.

Enlisting the services of telemarketers bridges a wide gap between suppliers and their existing clients as well as potential new consumers (e.g. suppliers of renewable energies). Telemarketers play a key role in increasing sales for the companies they represent.

Ultimately, the most exciting part of the deal for the telemarketer is when a client eventually signs papers for products or services provided. For a successful deal, however, the telemarketer is required to follow all the guidelines regarding unsolicited sales agreements and deal cancellation without faltering.

Understanding Unsolicited Consumer Agreements

Parties entering into business deals are protected against unsolicited consumer agreements under the Australian Consumer Law.

Unsolicited consumer agreements encompass agreements which are concluded through telemarketing, door-to-door sales, as well as approaching customers in public places such as shopping centres, and under the following conditions:

  • Negotiations are done by phone or at a location other than the seller’s place of business.
  • a seller, or their sales agent, approaches the customer physically or on phone without the customer’s invitation.
  • the total value of goods or services is more than $100 (or cannot be determined when the agreement is made).

 

If a dispute arises from a deal within these specifications, the involved parties carry the burden to first prove that an agreement is/was not an unsolicited consumer agreement.

Most of what telemarketers do falls squarely into the category of unsolicited marketing. This leaves them with a lot of ground to cover as for ensuring that they act within the law.

The unsolicited consumer agreement clauses under the Australian Consumer Law aim at specifically protect vulnerable individuals from high-pressure marketing techniques. In this regard, the law is seemingly in favour of the consumer, with the right to cancel the unsolicited sale agreement well guaranteed.

What Validates an Agreement?

The following are the basic standards of an agreement:

  • Once both parties have concluded negotiations, the next part is validating the agreement by giving a written copy.
  • For negotiations done over the phone, such agreements should be availed within five business days (or longer if the consumer so agrees).
  • The contract must note that the consumer has the right to cancel the agreement.
  • Furthermore, it must be written in an open, transparent, plain, legible and clear language.
  • The total price payable for goods and services supplied should also be indicated. This should include any postal or delivery charges.
  • The supplier must also clearly indicate its name, address, Australian Business Number or the Australian Company Number.

How do both parties go about cancellation of unsolicited consumer agreement within the provided laws?

Terminating an Unsolicited Sales Agreement

An agreement can be terminated orally or in writing. Consumers are allowed 10 business days to review and rethink the agreement. This period is called the cooling-off period and it begins with the first business day after receipt of the agreement.

For agreements that are negotiated face to face, the cooling-off period begins on the first business day right after the agreement is made.

It is important to note that if the consumer agreement is terminated within this period, it automatically becomes void. The date of termination is the date the consumer issues a notice to cancel the agreement.

The cooling-off period is also guided by a number of regulations. These are known as the cooling-off rights and ensure that appropriate actions are protected within the law. Suppliers must ensure that:

  • they do not supply goods or services within the cooling-off period.
  • they don’t demand or receive payment for goods and services within this period.

Consumers, on the other hand, have the following responsibilities:

They have to ensure that goods supplied within the cooling-off period are returned. If the supplier doesn’t collect goods within 30 days after receiving notice of agreement termination, the consumer can claim ownership of goods.

Goods must be stored in a reasonable state until returned. If failing to do so, the consumer will be held liable to pay compensation.

If a supplier’s agent, such as a telemarketer, has breached the unsolicited consumer agreement, the supplier cannot enforce an agreement. The supplier should therefore ensure that the sales agent or any other representative is fully aware of all the legal obligations when undertaking unsolicited marketing approaches.

Seek Advice

Unsolicited consumer agreements can present a complicated legal hurdle for both the supplier and consumer. A common mistake that suppliers make is attempting to enter into an agreement when a consumer requests a quote. If the deal is eventually initiated by the seller, it would be considered an unsolicited consumer agreement. However, if the consumer follows up the quote by agreeing to negotiate a deal, then it would not be classified as unsolicited.

Please seek professional legal advice if you’re unsure what you might be getting yourself into with your next business negotiation.

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