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8 May 2012

Door-to-door vacuum cleaner sellers

Door-to-door vacuum cleaner sellers are still doing the rounds.

Door-to-door vacuum cleaner sellers are still doing the rounds.

If someone knocks on the door offering you a free raffle ticket, chances are they're selling high-priced vacuum cleaners.

76-year-old Loris was given a raffle ticket by a man knocking on the door of her Auckland home. He took her name and phone number. Not long after, she says she got a phone call to say she’d "won" a free carpet shampoo and vacuum cleaner demonstration.

When the salesperson from Technology Ucan Trust Ltd arrived, he turned up with a $4165 Kirby vacuum in tow. He offered to sell Loris the vacuum for $3400 if she traded in her existing cleaner. Swayed by the sales pitch, she paid a deposit of $1700 and signed-up to pay off the balance in instalments at 25.59 percent interest.

She soon had second thoughts. Loris has osteoporosis and she found the vacuum far too heavy. Our consumer adviser Maggie Edwards says Loris had a right to cancel the deal under the Door to Door Sales Act. The Act gives consumers a 7-day cooling-off period if they buy on credit. The 7 days start the day after the agreement is signed.

Armed with this advice, Loris' daughter Michelle delivered a letter to Technology Ucan Trust cancelling the deal. The company refunded Loris but it kept $100 as a cancellation fee. Michelle says she was initially told the fee would be around $500, though this was reduced when she complained. However, we think Loris shouldn't have been charged a fee at all. The Act clearly states any money has to be repaid when a door-to-door sale agreement is cancelled.

When we contacted Technology Ucan Trust, co-owner Monique Reid told us the fee was charged because Loris cancelled a day outside the 7-day window. The company started the clock after Loris signed an "offer to purchase" form. But the actual purchase agreement wasn't signed until the following day and we believe the clock should only have started ticking after this. Reid said the company always provided a full refund when customers cancelled within 7 days. She also said it’s now refunded Loris the $100.

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