If a customer enters into a Contract which is “unsolicited” then under the new Australian Consumer Law which came into effect on the 1st January, 2011, a range of protections apply to the Contract including a ten (10) day cooling off period. However, those protections won’t apply if the Agreement is “solicited”.

What we expect to see therefore is Vendors attempting to structure the dealings so as to bring themselves within the definition of a “solicited” Contract. Party-plan events, for example, are considered to be “solicited” sales as are Sales Agreements which are “renewal of an existing Agreement”.

If a business asks you to provide them with contact details it may be that what they are then wanting to do is to pretend that when they ring you back it is not an “unsolicited” approach. Similarly, we won’t be surprised of some Vendors adopt the practice of terminating a phone call after it rings only once or twice so that the call then shows up on the receiver’s phone as a missed call. If the person then rings back the missed call it is arguable that it is no longer a “solicited” phone call because the consumer is now ringing the Vendor.

As with all new laws we will be watching things closely to see what attitude the Courts take to these new situations.