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Knocked out

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Or worse the $3000 vacuum cleaner salesman with the slippery grin and sales patter? So are we. Today we’re arming you with a tool to get rid of them. Free inside this magazine is a ‘Do Not Knock’ sticker which we’re encouraging members to post on their letterboxes, front door or anywhere prominent to warn door-to-door sellers they are not welcome.

We get plenty of complaints about dodgy door-to-door dealers. Many cases involve elderly and vulnerable consumers, pressed into signing up for products they don’t want or can’t afford. We’ve dealt with heart-breaking cases of elderly folk sucked into buying vacuum cleaners for $3000 which are not worth even $100 (we know, we’ve tested them).

Education software programmes are the new encyclopaedias – we’ve had complaints about $11,000 programmes sold to parents by salespeople with no teaching qualifications. Then there are the tricksters offering to paint your roof, trim your trees, reseal your drive, sell you a ridiculously expensive bed… The law has been bolstered but it is not enough, so we’re giving you a way to withdraw the welcome mat! Legally anyone has an implied licence to knock on your door. But you have a right to revoke the licence by displaying a ‘Do Not Knock’ sticker. If a door-to-door salesperson ignores it, they are likely to be trespassing.

More than 2000 members recently took part in our survey on door-to-door sellers. The results were clear – 70 percent of you dislike the practice and want them to stop calling. Two-thirds of you said they were “annoying” and “intrusive”. Several members said they had to threaten to call the police before they could get rid of them.

We’re asking companies which use these tactics to ensure their agents don’t enter properties displaying the stickers. The Direct Selling Association has agreed to tell members not to enter properties with a sticker. We’re also pushing for changes to the Fair Trading Act to make it an offence for sellers to ignore a ‘Do Not Knock’ sign.

We’ve got plenty of stickers so if you or your friends want to support the campaign contact us at donotknock@consumer.org.nz. Help us get the message out there: Do Not Knock.

About the author:

Sue Chetwin has been our Chief Executive since April 2007 after more than 25 years in print journalism. She was formerly the Editor of Sunday News, Sunday Star Times and the Herald on Sunday. She says there are strong parallels between consumer advocacy and journalism.

Sue oversees all of Consumer’s operations and is also the public face of the organisation. Sue is a director of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, an alternate on the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commission and a member of the Electricity Authority Retail Advisory group.

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