How to protect yourself when buying from a door-to-door salesperson
People buying from door-to-door salespeople have some protections under the DOOR TO DOOR SALES ACT 1967. The provisions of the Act cannot be contracted out of.
The protection under this Act does not apply if:
- you have invited the seller to your property â€“ that is, if you have seen an advertisement for the goods or services in question and you asked to view the product or have a home demonstration, or
- you have paid cash for the goods (The Act applies only to "credit agreements", where the full purchase price is not paid before or at the time the agreement is made.)
Seven-day "cooling off" period
If you have bought goods or services from a door-to-door salesperson under an agreement to which the Act applies, you have seven days in which to give written notice to the seller that you are cancelling the agreement.
The Second Schedule of the Act provides a form for a "Notice of Cancellation". However, the Act states that you do not have to use this form: it is sufficient if your notice, however it is expressed, indicates your intention to cancel or withdraw from the agreement.
The effect of the notice is that the agreement is rescinded as if it never had effect, and the seller is required to immediately repay you any money that you paid under the agreement. If the agreement was for the sale of goods and you have possession of them, then you have a right to keep the goods until the seller repays the money. If you have given any goods in part-exchange (that is, as a trade-in) for the goods you bought, the seller must also return those goods to you, or their value.
Do I have to send the goods back to the seller if I cancel the agreement?
No, if you cancel you are under no obligation to return the goods: the seller must pick them up from your premises.
However, you must take all reasonable care with the goods for a period of 21 days after you cancel.
Information that must be included in the purchase agreement
If you decide to buy goods from a door-to-door salesperson the purchase agreement must be in writing and must be signed by you and by the seller. It must contain the following information:
- the seller's name and address
- a statement setting out details of your right to the seven-day "cooling off" period (see above)
- the amount of each payment, the number and frequency of the payments, and the dates when they must be made (or a statement that enables you to determine those dates)
- where applicable, the cost of credit, the finance rate and the cash price
What if the agreement doesn't include this information?
If the agreement is not in writing or the written agreement does not include all the above information, you may cancel the agreement at any time up to one month after agreeing to buy the goods.
What if I'm being harassed by a salesperson?
It is illegal for salespeople to harass you or to remain in your house after you have asked them to leave. If this occurs you may make a complaint to the Police. If you are concerned about any aspect of a salesperson's behaviour you may also wish to inform the Consumers Institute (for contact details, see their website at www.consumer.org.nz).
- If you decide to take advantage of the "cooling off period", it is important that you notify the seller. It is not sufficient for you to simply cancel a cheque that you have given as a deposit.
- If you felt pressured to enter into the contract you may make a claim under the FAIR TRADING ACT 1986 (see How to: Protection under the Fair Trading Act). A lawyer can help you through this process.