Aggressive carpet cleaner took advantage of elderly
A DOOR-TO-DOOR salesman who took advantage of elderly Victorians has been ordered to cease trading for five years and pay more than $17,000 in refunds, damages, penalties and costs.
Consumer Affairs Victoria took action against David James Donald, 73, of Reservoir, in the Supreme Court to put a stop to his illegal sales tactics, including demanding upfront cash payments for his carpet and upholstery cleaning services.
Five victims reported Mr Donald to Consumer Affairs Victoria in late 2015 and early 2016, including:
• A 89-year-old pensioner who was left frightened and unable to sleep after Mr Donald forced his way into her home and bullied her in to writing a cheque for $600 - despite her insistence that she could not afford it.
• A 74-year-old man on oxygen who Mr Donald demanded pay $500 in cash for carpet cleaning, after entering his home uninvited.
• An elderly couple who paid Mr Donald $450 after he insisted he had cleaned their carpet seven years previously, and that it needed to be done again.
In each case, Mr Donald failed to comply with Australian Consumer Law provisions for door to door sales, including a requirement to give a 10 day cooling off period, provide a full name, and inform consumers he must leave immediately upon request.
Consumer Affairs Victoria issued a public warning against Mr Donald in April after he defied Supreme Court orders to conduct his business in accordance with the Australian Consumer Law.
In June, Consumer Affairs Victoria obtained an interim cease trading injunction preventing Mr Donald from approaching consumers unsolicited at home, over the phone or in public to seek business.
In his December 19 judgement, Justice Robson of the Supreme Court said Mr Donald had 'flagrantly failed to observe the laws designed to protect consumers.'
Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Simon Cohen said he was pleased the court had agreed to extend the cease trading injunction for a further five years, as well as ordering Mr Donald to pay, within 90 days:
• refunds to four consumers totalling $1950. A fifth consumer has previously received $1,750 in refunds and damages
• damages of $1,200 for an elderly consumer who experienced fear and distress, plus $312 to cover the cost of changing her locks
• fines totalling $3,900
• payment of Consumer Affairs Victoria's legal costs amounting to $10,000.
"Mr Donald's aggressive tactics left vulnerable consumers in distress and often significantly out of pocket," Mr Cohen said.
"Strict laws apply to door to door sales to ensure consumers are not forced to make costly decisions on the spot.
"The cease trading injunction awarded against Mr Donald will protect Victorians from his unacceptable business practices, and he faces serious consequences if he does not comply."
Victorians with concerns about door to door sales people can contact Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81.