ACCC takes gas hawkers to court

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed proceedings in the Federal Court against Australian Power & Gas Company Ltd (APG) in relation to its door-to-door selling practices. 
The ACCC is alleging that APG, through the conduct of certain sales representatives acting on its behalf, made false or misleading representations while calling on consumers at their homes for the purpose of negotiating agreements for the supply of retail electricity and/or gas by APG.

The alleged conduct occurred across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria between January and October 2011. 
The ACCC also alleges that APG engaged in unconscionable conduct involving a consumer from a non-English speaking background with very limited English reading/writing skills. 
’These are the fourth proceedings that the ACCC has instituted as part of its focus on door-to-door selling practices in the energy industry, and the first to include an allegation of unconscionable conduct,’ ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. 
’Businesses who use door-to-door marketing must ensure their practices meet the requirements of the Australian Consumer Law.

The ACCC will not hesitate to take action to protect consumers in their homes from misleading and unconscionable conduct, particularly where the conduct affects disadvantaged or vulnerable consumers.’

In May 2013, AGL Sales Pty Ltd and AGL South Australia Pty Ltd were ordered to pay penalties totalling $1.55 million by consent for false and misleading representations and breaches of the unsolicited consumer agreements provisions. Marketing company CPM Australia Pty Ltd was ordered to pay $200,000 for its role in the conduct.

The ACCC’s guide for consumers Knock! Knock! Who’s There? (PDF) provides information about consumer rights, including asking a sales person to leave which they must do when asked, or asking for time to consider the offer.

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