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Do Not Knock

Door-to-door sellers be warned: consumers are fed up with your sales tactics. Our latest survey shows 70 percent of Consumer NZ members dislike door-to-door salespeople and want them to stop calling. Over 60 percent dubbed these traders “annoying” and “intrusive”.

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We’ve launched a campaign to fight back against dodgy door-to-door dealers. As part of our campaign, we’re distributing free “Do Not Knock” stickers. The stickers can be put on your letterbox, front door – or anywhere prominent – to warn door-to-door sellers not to knock.

We get regular complaints about the hard-sell and exploitative sales tactics these traders use. Many cases involve elderly or vulnerable consumers, pressured to sign up for products they don’t want and can’t afford.

Existing laws aren’t deterring these traders. So we’re giving consumers a way to tell door-to-door sellers they’re not welcome.

Enough is enough

We’re launching this campaign because of the serious complaints we continue to get about door-to-door traders selling grossly overpriced products – often to people who can least afford to pay for them.

We’ve dealt with cases involving outrageously expensive $3000 vacuum cleaners that clean no better than vacuums you can buy for $100.

We’ve fielded complaints about $11,000 education software sold to parents by sales staff who aren’t required to have teaching qualifications.

We’ve also heard from consumers enticed to buy overpriced beds and other household goods they couldn’t afford and go into debt to purchase.

The sales pitch used by the sellers can go on for hours. People have told us they’ve felt the only way to get rid of the salesperson is to buy the product.

We’ve also had complaints about pushy door-to-door sellers working for electricity companies as well as traders who knock on the door offering to prune trees or paint the roof. They take money for the job but the promised work either never gets done or is done so badly you have to pay someone else to fix it.

From what we’ve seen, the problem is getting worse.

We received hundreds of comments in our survey about pushy door-to-door sellers who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer (see “Complaints”). Several members told us they had to threaten to call the police to get the salesperson to leave.

The Commerce Commission has said it receives a disproportionate number of complaints about high pressure door-to-door sales. Like us, it gets complaints about the hard-sell tactics being used to flog overpriced goods to elderly or vulnerable consumers.

Your rights

Everybody has an implied licence to enter your property and knock on your door. But you have the right to take away this licence. You can revoke a salesperson’s licence to enter your property by displaying a “Do Not Knock” sticker. If a door-to-door seller ignores the sticker, they’re likely to be trespassing.

We’re calling on companies which use door-to-door selling to ensure their agents and employees don’t enter properties displaying a sticker. The Direct Selling Association of New Zealand, which represents around 40 companies, has already said it will tell its members not to enter premises with a sticker.

We’ll also be pushing for changes to the Fair Trading Act to make it an offence for sellers to ignore a “Do Not Knock” sign. Australia has strengthened its laws to require door-to-door sellers to leave a property immediately when requested. The courts there have confirmed consumers can use a “Do Not Knock” sign to make this request.

Last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took an energy retailer and its marketing company to court for ignoring a “Do Not Knock” sticker. The companies had to pay fines totalling AU$60,000. We want similar penalties here to stop these traders.

Join our campaign

You can support our campaign against door-to-door sellers:

  • Put a “Do Not Knock” sticker on your letterbox, front door or any place where it’s visible to people entering the property.
  • Let us know about problems you have with door-to-door sellers – and sellers who ignore your “Do Not Knock” sticker. Email us at donotknock@consumer.org.nz
  • Tell your family and friends where they can get a “Do Not Knock” sticker.
  • Support our call to get the law changed so companies which ignore a “Do Not Knock” sticker can be fined.

Get your sticker

Paying members can email donotknock@consumer.org.nz to request a sticker.

Non-members who want a sticker can send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to us at: Do Not Knock, Consumer NZ, Private Bag 6996, Marion Square, Wellington 6141. We’ll put a sticker in the post to you.

We’re also distributing stickers to Citizens Advice Bureaus and making them available through other organisations that want to support the campaign. Stickers are available from Resene Colorshops nationwide.

Or you can download this printable version of the sticker. (56.1 KB)

Campaign FAQS

Put the sticker on your letterbox, front gate or front door – anywhere it’s clearly visible.

If a salesperson ignores a “Do Not Knock” sticker, they’re likely to be trespassing. You have the right to bring an action against them under common law.

We’d like to hear from you if salespeople are ignoring the sticker. Contact us at donotknock@consumer.org.nz.

Yes. Consumer groups across the Tasman have used the stickers to campaign for better consumer protection there.

The sticker applies to uninvited salespeople. Be aware some door-to-door sellers use the ruse of phoning and offering a “free gift” if you agree to an in-home demonstration. They’re usually extremely coy about the product they’re selling and its price. Don’t feel shy about hanging up.

The sticker is only intended to prevent salespeople from knocking on your door. You also have the right to tell other door-knockers to leave if you don’t want them at your house.

Statistics NZ interviewers are an exception. Statistics NZ has the right to visit homes when it’s conducting official surveys. If selected for a survey, you’re required to participate. Interviewers will have an official identification badge.

If you buy goods or services and the value is more than $100, you have the right to cancel the deal for any reason. The seller must tell you this orally and in writing. You can cancel the deal within five working days of receiving the written agreement. Find out more about your rights.

The NZ Marketing Association operates 'do not mail' and 'do not call' registers, available free to consumers. If you don't want to receive cold calls from telemarketers, your home contact details can be added to the list.

The association's members use the list to find out who doesn't want to be called. But it's not foolproof - you'll still get calls from companies that aren't members of the association.

To use the registers:

  • Visit the Marketing Association website and add yourself to the do not call and do not mail lists.
  • Or write (with your full name, address and telephone number) to Do Not Mail and Do Not Call Registers, Marketing Association, P O Box 47681, Ponsonby, Auckland.

Learn more about how telemarketers find you.

FAQs about trespassing

If a salesperson ignores your sticker you can warn the person they’re trespassing and you’ll call the police if they don’t leave. If the person doesn’t leave after you’ve given them a reasonable opportunity to do so, call 111 and ask for the police. The person is committing an offence under the Trespass Act by remaining on your property.

Please be aware the stickers are only intended to apply to salespeople.

You can issue a trespass notice (408 KB). A trespass notice is a formal warning to stay off your property.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t own the home or the land, you just need to be a lawful occupier of the property (i.e. a tenant, licensee or owner) or someone authorised by the lawful occupier of the property.

You can issue a trespass notice orally or in writing. We recommend a written trespass notice so you have proof you’ve issued the notice.

You can use this template (408 KB).

Complete three copies of the trespass notice – one for the trespasser, one for you and one for your local police station. Also, complete the “Details of service of trespass notice” page as a record of the notice having been served.

To issue a written trespass notice, simply hand it to the person. If the person won’t take the notice or if it drops to the ground, you have still served the notice.

If a person comes back within two years of receiving a trespass notice, they will be committing an offence under the Trespass Act. The penalty for an offence under the Trespass Act is a fine of up to $1000 or a prison term of up to three months.

Complaints

Over 2000 Consumer NZ members took part in our survey on door-to-door sellers. Around 23 percent of members told us a door-to-door seller turned up at their house at least once a month. Nearly 50 percent had a seller on their doorstep at least every few months.

Here’s what members told us about their experiences:

  • Door-to-door salesmen turned up right on dinner time. It was pitch black in the middle of winter and I happened to be home alone. They put heaps of pressure on to change power providers.

  • Said ‘no thank you’ five times and asked him to leave and he still kept going.

  • Just pushy and made promises that I knew were untrue and could not be fulfilled.

  • The vacuum cleaner guy did not want to leave until we agreed to buy the machine costing $3500.

  • A salesperson came into my home and eventually had to be threatened with the police to get him out.

  • Would not take ‘no thanks’ for an answer.

  • Salesperson was verbally abusive when asked to leave.

  • Wouldn’t go away and kept his foot in the door so we couldn’t get it closed.

  • Pushy and argumentative and refusing to accept no for an answer.

  • Power company salesman simply would not take no for an answer and was very reluctant to leave until I made it clear in very simple terms.

  • Became really unpleasant when we wouldn’t sign an agreement to buy a $4500 cleaner!

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