Customer door knocking has long been a cheap and effective way to market new products. But a recent case in Victoria is bringing back the age-old debate: should it be made illegal? Some say yes, and some say no. Read on to find out more.
We all know how persuading door-to-door salesmen can be. Or maybe ‘persuading’ is not quite the word.
The door-to-door selling industry works on a commission basis, which means that results are incentivised. Often in this race, the ends justify the means; there is no monitoring of what tactics the salesperson employs to get the results.
Recently, a residential door-knocking salesman is believed to have sold an energy provider to a 12-year-old girl, after spruiking up the deal with numerous incentives. The father of the girl, understandably, is quite irate about it, and has lodged a case with Victoria’s energy ombudsman.
After similar such complaints, the Big Three of energy, Origin, Energy Australia and AGL, have pulled the plug on residential customer door knocking, because they feel that it is not worth the beating their brands take due to the stray, ambitious miscreant who isn’t unwilling to push the lines just that little bit more to achieve a sale and a commission.
The Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria’s recent report notes that marketing and transfer cases have halved compared to the same period last year, which means something is working. And yet, there are odd cases like the above which give the whole industry a sullied name.
For instance, one consumer complained that a single retailer pestered him with a dozen calls in just a week. For those of us who have been on the receiving end of telemarketing campaigns, this is not an unheard-of phenomenon.
The big question, now, is whether to make it a law to prevent companies from engaging in customer door knocking. While many of the consumers who have been hit badly with it will support the idea, corporate still believe that door knocking has real benefits, both for the consumer and for the advertiser.
It is still an important way to encourage competition, they say, whereby a new entrant to the market without the big advertising budgets can compete with the established names. Their argument is that most agents do the right thing, and a bad experience is more of an exception than the rule.
But what if you are the exception?

Jenn Patrick

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