Door Stop Selling - The Legal Issues and Regulations

Door stop selling – solicited and unsolicited

Many businesses sell many of their products on a door to door basis. For example sales representatives of certain companies may be required as part of their job to continually knock on peoples’ doors and try and sell them their product. This is referred to as unsolicited door stop selling as there is no prior arrangement with the owner of the property for the sales rep to come to the house.

In other cases a business may first conduct introductory sales through another avenue such as telephone sales. An unsolicited telephone call will enable certain details of a product to be provided to the consumer. If the consumer is interested in the product, an arrangement for a sales rep to come to their home can be organised for the sale to be concluded. This is referred to as solicited door stop selling as there was a prior agreement for the individual to come to the house.

Are there any regulations which govern door stop selling?

Door stop selling in England and Wales is governed by the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work Etc Regulations 2008.

What is the aim of the Regulations?

The Regulations are aimed at traders who enter into a contract with a consumer at their home or workplace and also cover contracts made at another individual’s home or an excursion organised by the trader away from their business premises.

Accordingly the Regulations do not simply cover door stop selling at an individual’s home as much of this selling can also happen at an individual’s place of work. Companies may also wish to demonstrate products to individuals at trade shows etc which are away from their main business premises. Accordingly this kind of selling will also be covered by the Regulations.

What do the Regulations provide for?

The Regulations came into force in 2008 and replaced the previous regulations dealing with this issue – the Cancellation of Contracts Concluded away from Business Premises Regulations 1987.

The 2008 Regulations extend the law in relation to the cooling-off periods for consumers and the cancellation rights provided by law to the consumers entering into these kinds of contracts.

What is meant by a cooling-off period?

A cooling-off period is a certain period of time that is often provided for by law for consumer contracts. Once the contract has been agreed upon the cooling-off period will begin immediately. During this cooling-off period the consumer will be able to cancel the contract completely without any detriment. This means that they will be able to cancel the contract and will not incur any penalty payments for that cancellation.

How long is the cooling-off period under these Regulations

The cooling-off period for these kinds of contract is now set at a minimum of 7 calendar days following the implementation of the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work Etc Regulations 2008.

Are contracts made during both solicited and unsolicited visits covered by the Regulations?

Contracts concluded with a consumer made during an unsolicited or solicited visit will be fully covered by the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work Etc Regulations 2008.

Is there a minimum amount of payment that must be made for these Regulations to apply?

The Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work Etc Regulations 2008 will apply to contracts where a minimum payment of £35 has been made. For contracts where the value is less than this amount the Regulations will not apply.

Do the Regulations create specific cancellation rights?

There is a specific right to cancel provided to consumers under these Regulations. This right to cancel must be provided in any terms and conditions of sale which the trader is using. All business trading in this manner must word the cancellation terms in the exact manner provided for in the Regulations.

Furthermore property management professionals who visit their client landlords at their home or non-business premises are legally required under the Regulations to have cancellation wording in their terms of business.

What happens if a trader does not inform a consumer of the cancellation rights?

If a trader does not provide notice to the consumer detailing their right to cancel the contract this will constitute an offence.

What is the likely punishment for this offence?

The maximum punishment for this offence is a fine of £5,000.

Are there any kinds of contracts which are not within the scope of the Regulations?

Schedule 3 to the Regulations details the contracts that are outside the scope of the Regulations. The exclusions include contracts for the construction, sale, or rental of immovable property or a contract concerning other rights relating to immovable property other than the following:

  •       A contract for the construction of extensions, patios, conservatories or driveways
  •       A contract for the supply of goods and their incorporation in immovable property
  •       A contract for the repair, refurbishment or improvement of immovable property

Do the Regulations apply to tenancy agreements?

Tenancy agreements are not covered by the Regulations. However, the Regulations may apply to other types of legal agreements such as agency agreements between agent and landlord or rent guarantees.