THE Federal Court has ordered Neighbourhood Energy Pty Ltd and Australian Green Credits Pty Ltd by consent to pay a total penalty of $1 million for illegal door-to-door selling practices following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
In the first case to be brought under the Unsolicited Consumer Agreement provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), the Court declared that Neighbourhood Energy and Australian Green Credits engaged in multiple breaches of the ACL. These breaches included a failure to leave the homes of consumers when requested, including by way of a 'do not knock' sign.
"These orders are hugely significant and represents three 'firsts'," said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims.
"This is the first court outcome arising from the ACCC's focus on door-to-door sales activity; it is the first ACCC case to be brought under the Unsolicited Consumer Agreement Provisions of the ACL, and it provides the first guidance as to the importance of 'do not knock' stickers.
"The effect of the Court's order is that every time a salesperson ignores a visible 'do not knock' sign on a consumer's door, the company they represent is exposed to a maximum penalty of $50,000.
"This is a win for the rights of consumers to be protected in their homes against unlawful door-to-door selling.
"The ACCC has previously put energy retailers on notice that it is closely watching their use of door-to-door selling practices and the conduct of their door-to-door salespeople."
Neighbourhood Energy, a Victorian-based electricity retailer and a wholly owned subsidiary of Alinta Holdings, was ordered by consent to pay a penalty of $850,000. Australian Green Credits, the former door-to-door marketing contractor for Neighbourhood Energy, was ordered by consent to pay $150,000, and both parties contributed towards the ACCC's costs.