A FOOTSCRAY service that has long campaigned against dodgy doorknockers has welcomed a crackdown on the industry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Footscray Community Legal Centre (FCLC) manager Denis Nelthorpe said the ACCC's report, Research into the door to door sales industry in Australia, should sound a warning to energy and other retailers using doorknockers that the practice will be banned unless they stop preying on vulnerable people.
More than one-million of the 1.3million sales made via doorknocking in Australia last year were for energy services.
The report criticised aggressive and misleading tactics preying on vulnerable 'easy targets' or hooking consumers through tricks such as pretending to have lost their dog or to be from the government.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said that, on average, every household in Australia was doorknocked eight times a year, but the rates were higher in areas with big migrant populations and low levels of English.
"The ACCC has already started a number of enforcement actions, is investigating several more and will not hesitate to take court action against companies or their sales agents who dupe consumers or don't abide by the rules."
The FCLC has worked with the ACCC on customer complaints and offered targeted education to vulnerable communities in areas such as Braybrook and Maidstone.
Mr Nelthorpe said the problem had got so bad in some areas people refused to open their doors.
He has sympathy for under-trained sales agents relying on commissions for their income but wants steps taken to protect people being tricked into signing contracts.
"The doorknockers themselves are incredibly vulnerable as well.
"The responsibility for what is happening lies fairly and squarely with the retailers."
The ACCC has produced a Knock! Knock! Who's There? guide, which gives information about people's rights. It also has 'Do Not Knock' stickers available for people to put on their front door or front gate.