Setback for door sellers

YET another door-to-door selling operation has been found guilty of breaching the Door-to-Door Trading Act, bringing into question its use as a valid sales tool.

Nanolab and its director Gary Anderson were each found guilty on 15 counts of the act.

The company, trading as Professional Sound Distributors, sold overpriced audio speakers from a mobile van, operating on the street and at car parks outside workplaces in Perth.

Nanolab was fined $2,500 plus $750 court costs and Mr Anderson received the same penalty.

Under the Act, the door-to-door seller has to give the customer a 10-day cooling off period for any sale worth more than $50.

The Act requires all door-to-door sellers to be properly identified. A business card suffices.

They have to give the customer two pieces of paper – one informing the customer of their right to the cooling off period and the second to enable them to exercise that right. These forms are available from the Law Society Bookshop.

Door-to-door sellers can only operate between 9am and 8pm through the week and from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.

Even telemarketing to set up a visit by a salesman is considered door-to-door selling because the customer did not initiate the first contact. So too is a display in a shopping centre if the customer is drawn to it by a spruiker.

Small Business Development Corporation managing director George Etrelezis said door-to-door selling was not a sales method his organisation endorsed.

“There is a lot of competition from other marketing tools and the area is tightly regulated,” Mr Etrelezis said.

“The Internet and mobile phones have made door-to-door selling virtually obsolete. I think telemarketing has taken its place.

“Back 30 years ago there was a bigger captive market for door-to-door sellers because that was the only way to reach those customers that couldn’t reach you,” he said.

“We favour home-based businesses where the operator can use a variety of marketing tools.”

Marketforce chairman Howard Read said door-to-door selling would have to be one of the most expensive sales methods.

“The access to people’s front doors is getting harder due to increased security and peoples’ attitudes to door knockers,” Mr Read said.

“The future for door-to-door sellers is becoming bleak. The Internet is giving people greater power to find information about products.

“These days much of the power is resting with the consumer.”

However, Sales Force managing director Kevin Panozza believes the sales tool still has its place.

His company runs an 800-strong door-to-door selling operation, possibly the largest in Australia.

“The days of the foot-in-the-door seller has gone. They’ve been regulated out of business,” Mr Panozza said.

“They had a brief renaissance with the telecommunications companies but they’re pretty much gone now. There isn’t much left that can be sold door-to-door.”

However, Mr Panozza’s company has made its mark selling cable television and is the primary sales tool for Foxtel.

“Door-to-door selling works for products that need a lot of explanation. Something people wouldn’t rush out to buy,” Mr Panozza said.

“Digital TV would be another product we could sell well.”

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