How to Get Out of Door-to-Door Electricity Contract?

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Will F

9 April 2014
A rather pushy door-to-door salesman signed up my grandmother to ‘switch’ energy providers for her electricity yesterday. Apparently it would mean a much lower price, but my grandmother has not done any research to compare the difference and just believed what the salesman said. I want to help her make a more informed decision and I think this is a big australian consumer law problem. What can she do to get out of the contract?
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Helen D

9 April 2014
There is a cooling off period of 10 business days starting on the first business day after the day that your grandmother signed the contract (so today if she signed it yesterday).

So during this time, your grandmother can cancel the contract without any penalty (for any reason, even though she signed the contract).

The salesman should have told your grandmother about the cooling off period before getting her to sign the contract. The cooling off period can be extended to 6 months if the salesman either did not tell your grandmother about the cooling off period, or did not give her a copy of the contract.

Also, the cooling off period can be extended to 3 months if the salesman:
- approached your grandmother outside the permitted hours,
- did not disclose the purpose of his visit or his identity, or
- did not leave when asked.

Your grandmother can cancel the contract verbally or in writing. If cancelling by written notice, she can email, fax, post or personally deliver the notice to the electricity seller. The contract’s cancellation is effective from the date that the notice is provided. The notice does not have to be set out in any particular way. If you use the post, notice is taken to have been given at the time you posted it so keep records of the date and any proof of postage.

If you are worried about your grandmother being hassled by other door-to-door salespeople in the future, you can put a ‘do not knock’, ‘no canvassing’ or ‘no advertising’ sign or sticker on her door.


18 April 2014
Hi Will F, in addition to what Helen D said,
It is against the law for salespeople to:

  • coerce you, harass you or put you under undue pressure to sign a new contract
  • mislead or deceive you about the product they are offering.
You do not have to:

  • give the salesperson any details about yourself or your electricity or gas use
  • sign anything to get more information
  • agree on the spot to a new offer.
If you don’t like how a door-to-door salesperson is behaving, ask them to leave—they must leave immediately and they must not contact you again within 30 days.

To prevent future visits from salespeople representing that retailer, ask to be added to their ‘no contact list’—you will remain on that retailer’s list for a period of two years.