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Telemarketing is a term commonly applied to sales that are made by telephone or by marketing products on television.

Commonwealth legislation including the Australian Consumer Law (see Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) Schedule 2) and the Telecommunications Act 1991 (Cth) applies to sales made through electronic media such as the telephone or television. The use of services such as cable television may complicate consumer remedies even further.

Sales made through the use of electronic media are a relatively new, but rapidly expanding area. Issues of concern include:

  • privacy, see: Privacy
  • where disputes should be heard, for example, if the trader is in New South Wales but the consumer is in South Australia, where should any legal proceedings take place?
  • contacting traders for a refund or exchange if only a postal address is provided. Problems also arise in determining the cost of transport or postage in the event of a refund

Where disputes arise the Australian Direct Marketing Association has a code of conduct which determines acceptable behaviour of traders, but this code is only binding on the association's members. In addition, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has in place a Code of Practice on Distance Selling for telemarketing, mail orders and other forms of direct marketing where consumers buy goods or services without visiting the trader's premises. It covers:

  • the use of mailing lists, protection of consumers' privacy, the use of information and the right to be removed from lists and to not be contacted
  • fair trading practices that prohibit false and misleading claims and gives consumers the right to cancel contracts
  • requirements that there be full and clear explanation of all terms and conditions and that traders must always properly identify themselves
  • accessible dispute resolution schemes.

Do not call register

This is a service provided by the Australian government to enable people to be excluded from telemarketer lists. Registration is free and can be done online, by phone or by post. Once your name has been registered telemarketers are legally prohibited to stop contacting you; however, it can take up to 30 days for telemarketing firms to receive the latest updates to the register so the effect of registration is not necessarily immediate.

There are exemptions for public interest organisations such as charities and political parties.

There is a complaints process if you believe there has been a breach of the register. For more information see the Do Not Call website.

Telemarketing  :  Last Revised: Tue Apr 7th 2015
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.