Consumers who allow home visits may lose protection under the law: Case

Some businesses would take the opportunity to promote goods or services to consumers after receiving permission to visit their homes.
Some businesses would take the opportunity to promote goods or services to consumers after receiving permission to visit their homes.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Around 30 per cent of 117 complaints about door-to-door sales over the past three years involved consumers who allowed businesses to make home visits, according to latest figures released by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) on Thursday (Jan 4).

These consumers had acceded to requests for businesses to visit their homes when they were at a shopping mall, roadshow or trade fair, or after they were offered gifts.

After receiving permission to visit, the businesses would take the opportunity to promote their goods or services to the consumers.

"On a year-to-year basis, approximately 30 per cent of door-to-door transaction cases lodged with Case involved consumers agreeing to the business’s request to visit their homes," said Case.

It reminded consumers that they may lose their protection under existing consumer laws if they allow businesses to make home visits in exchange for free or discounted goods or services.

Under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) (Cancellation of Contracts) Regulations 2009, consumers have the right to cancel a direct sales contract within five days of signing the contract, provided that the visit was unsolicited, Case said.

Consumers can do so by delivering a notice of cancellation personally to the business, or sending the notice by pre-paid post or fax.

"An unsolicited visit occurs when the business visits the consumer's home/workplace without the express request of the consumer," it said.

However, "by accepting the business's request to visit their homes, the visit can no longer be said to be unsolicited", it added.

Case also listed the following advice for consumers who have invited businesses to visit their homes:

  • Verify the legitimacy of the business by asking for identification documents;
  • Do not be pressured into signing an agreement. You have the right to say "no", and can consider calling the police if the sales staff refuse to leave your home;
  • Get a copy of the sales agreement, which should include the full terms and conditions, breakdown of price, contact information (that is, business address, e-mail and phone number) and refund policy. Any verbal promises made by the business should be put down in writing;
  • Where possible, you should buy from businesses accredited by the CaseTrust-Direct Selling Association of Singapore (www.casetrust.org.sg) as they have committed themselves to fair trading and a seven-day cooling-off period for consumers.

Consumers with unresolved disputes with businesses may approach Case on 6100 0315 or at www.case.org.sg