Telemarketing

Telemarketing involves contact over the phone to reach a sales agreement.  This agreement involves the sale of personal, domestic or household products or services, valued at more than $100.  Telemarketing phone calls are specifically regulated under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 and the Telemarketing and Research Industry Standard.

Hours they can contact you

Telemarketers can contact you

  • between 9am and 8pm on weekdays
  • between 9am and 5pm on a Saturday

They must not contact you on a Sunday or public holidays

These hours apply to all telemarketing sales, even if the agreement is worth less than $100

What telemarketers need to say

Telemarketers must:

  • provide their contact details
  • tell you why they are calling
  • tell you, if asked, how they got your number
  • ensure that their number is enabled when attempting to make a call
  • give the consumer a written copy of a sales agreement within five business days
  • inform the consumer of their cooling-off rights and how they can end the agreement
  • not attempt to get the consumer to give up their cooling-off rights.

Ending a call

Telemarketers must hang up immediately at the consumer's request, and not call back for at least 30 days.  To avoid telemarketers, consumers can request to be added to the Federal Government's 'Do Not Call Register' online or by calling 1300 792 958.

Supplier responsibility for failing to comply

A supplier cannot enforce an agreement, if the telemarketer has breached the law.  Suppliers need to make sure their telemarketers are fully aware of the legal responsibilities.

Contracts

A copy of a contract must be given to the consumer.  If a contact is made over the phone, it must arrive within five business days.

The contract must:

  • be signed
  • state that the salesperson is acting on behalf of a business
  • outline the total cost, including GST
  • include a notice that may be used to cancel the contract
  • include the contact details.

An agreement document signed by a salesperson on a supplier’s behalf must include:

  • the supplier's name, Australian Business Number (ABN), or, if they have one, Australian Company Number (ACN)
  • the supplier's business address (not a post office box), or residential address if no business address is available
  • the supplier's email address and fax number (if available).

Consumer rights

Telemarketers are not allowed to try to get consumers to remove their rights.  They are also not allowed to include certain statements in contracts that exclude, limit, modify or restrict:

  • a consumer's right to end the agreement
  • any law relating to contracts.

Cooling-off period

Consumers have ten business days after receiving the contract to change their mind. During this time, the contract may be cancelled and businesses may not:

  • supply goods, unless valued under $500
  • supply any services
  • take any payment or deposit.

Extended cooling-off period

Consumers may end an agreement up to three months after the agreement documents are received, if the telemarketer:

  • called outside of the allowed selling hours
  • did not disclose the purpose of the call
  • did not identify themselves, or the company they are calling on behalf of
  • did not give a business name and postal address or email address, or
  • did not end the call upon request.

The cooling-off period is extended to six months if a telemarketer:

  • did not provide information about cooling-off rights
  • was in breach of any of the requirements by law
  • supplied products priced over $500 during the ten business days of the cooling-off period
  • supplied services during the ten business days of the cooling-off period, or
  • accepted or requested any payment during the cooling-off period.

If a consumer cancels an agreement

A consumer may end an agreement orally or in writing. The end date is taken to be the date on which the consumer gave or sent notice.

Once a consumer has given notice to end an agreement, the agreement is cancelled. The notice is effective even if:

  • the consumer gave written notice, but the supplier has not received it
  • products or services supplied have been wholly or partly consumed or used.

Consumers do not own goods until they pay for them, even if they have been supplied. If a consumer cancels a contract within the cooling-off period, they must:

  • keep the goods in good condition
  • make them available for the business to collect.

The business must collect the goods within 30 days of the cancellation, otherwise the consumer may keep the goods free of charge.

Consumers may be able to cancel the contract without penalty for up to 6 months if the business breaks the selling rules.