Door-to-door art sales
The lure of picking up an original painting from an up-and coming artist can be hard to resist – especially when the painting is being offered on your doorstep, for a fraction of gallery prices and by a charming young foreigner.
Potential purchasers have been approached in their homes by young people, posing as foreign art students.
They state they have painted the artwork themselves in order to fund their studies or are selling on behalf of fellow art students back in their home country.
It can be difficult to determine whether this is the case or not and in some cases the canvas prints being sold may be available for import from Asia.
The sellers may also suggest an urgency to the sale and encourage potential purchasers to transfer money into their bank accounts on that day. This immediacy allows sellers to make a quick grab for the cash and leave town.
Consumers should always maintain caution when being requested to transfer money directly into bank accounts. Cash payments or wire transfers can make it difficult to track the sellers, or make any claim to a refund, after the transaction has taken place.
Consumers should remember their rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) including:
Door-to-door sellers must carry and produce clear identification;
For transactions above $100, a written contract must be provided and a copy given to the buyer immediately after signing;
"THIS CONTRACT IS SUBJECT TO A COOLING-OFF PERIOD OF TEN DAYS" must be printed or typed conspicuously and prominently on the front page of the contract;
No payment can be taken inside the 10 day cooling off period; and
The consumer is given two notices: a Form 1 notice which provides information about the consumer’s right to withdraw the contract and a Form 2 notice for the consumer to complete if they want to follow through with the withdrawal of the contract.
Under the ACL, it is an offence to make false representations about the place of origin of goods. Penalties can include fines up to $220,000 for individuals and $1.1million for corporations.
Some consumers have reported that they are happy with the artwork they have purchased. WA ScamNet recommends consumers to be aware of their rights and to be happy with the product before handing over any money.
See the Consumer Protection website for more about your rights when purchasing from a door-to-door salesperson.
If a door-to-door seller is threatening you or will not leave when you ask, you should call the police.
During office hours you can call Consumer Protection’s advice line on1300 30 40 54 or for non-urgent enquiries use email.
Update: June 2015
Consumer Protection is warning WA householders about door to door art sellers after three salespeople were intercepted in June 2015 by Pinjarra Police.
Police officers stopped a van on 9 June 2015 after local residents reported being approached by the art sellers who were going door to door selling paintings for $170 or more. Two Israeli men and a French woman, who are currently living in Warnbro, were questioned and more than 100 paintings were confiscated.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the sellers may still be operating in Perth’s southern suburbs or in the South-West.
“These traders are breaking the law by not observing a ten day cooling off period for unsolicited sales as required by the Australian Consumer Law,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Under these door to door trading laws, items over the value of $100 cannot be sold during the cooling off period if the trader is simply selling door to door. The salesperson can leave the item at the consumer’s home but cannot accept payment for ten business days.
“If consumers ask them to leave, they must comply immediately and cannot make contact for at least 30 days.
“It’s also been known for these art sellers to make false claims about the quality and value of the paintings which breaches laws relating to misleading representations.”
Traders are banned from door knocking on Sundays and public holidays and sales are restricted to between 9am and 6pm weekdays and 9am to 5pm Saturdays, unless they have made a prior appointment.
Consumers may consider displaying a sticker which reads: “DO NOT KNOCK - Unsolicited door-to-door selling not welcome here” and sellers must legally comply. The stickers are available from Consumer Protection.
Update: April 2015
A woman from the City of Cockburn has reported door-to-door art sellers who she feels bullied her into paying $300 for a painting she didn’t really want.
“The girl, who claimed to be a student, was very pushy and persistent about getting inside my home to show me her artwork. She said they were one-offs that she had painted but I now know that wasn’t true. I ended up going to an ATM with her and withdrawing $300 to pay for the piece.”
“Then she introduced a male friend who she said could do framing and he came into my home. He also used high pressure tactics and I ended up agreeing to bank transfer $870 in exchange for framing that he would come back to complete.
“My neighbours were suspicious and they had a look online and then found a scam warning about door-to-door art sellers. I felt so embarrassed that I’d been scammed! “I called the bank and managed to cancel the transfer but the man who was supposed to do the framing has been calling me to demand payment and even came back to the house. I had to call the police to report trespass.”
Other people in the City of Cockburn have taken to local Facebook pages to report door-to-door art sale scams happening over the last week.
Remember, under the Australian Consumer Law if someone comes to your home uninvited to offer you goods or services costing more than $100, this is an unsolicited sale and a 10 business day cooling off period applies. During the cooling off period, no payment is allowed to be taken, no services can be carried out; it is time to think over the agreement and cancel if you wish.