Suspect Marketers at Large in Sydney's West

NSW Fair Trading and Legal Aid NSW today issued a warning to consumers in Sydney’s west to be on the lookout for door-to-door marketers selling training courses.

Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said reports had been received from residents in the Granville and Fairfield areas, of marketers claiming to be ‘Government approved’ and offering free training courses ‘paid by the Government’ to individuals who earned less than $54,000 a year.

“The marketers doing the door-to-door sales are not ‘Government approved’,” Mr Stowe said.

“They are marketing on behalf of private registered training organisations, and earning commissions on the sales they make.

“Fair Trading has reason to believe many of these marketers are using misleading and dishonest tactics to sign consumers up to VET FEE-HELP student loans.

“As a result, those unsuspecting consumers can find themselves tens of thousands of dollars in debt for years to come, while the training colleges in question reap millions of dollars from the Commonwealth Government.”

Rebekah Doran, Senior Consumer Lawyer at Legal Aid NSW, said it had intervened in a number of cases, securing the cancellation of training contracts and VET FEE-HELP loans where consumers were misled into signing up.

“If you are concerned about a course that you have signed up for with a door-to-door marketer, it is important to get legal advice quickly,” Ms Doran said.

“You can get free legal help from your local Legal Aid NSW office or by phoning LawAccess on 1300 888 529.”

In a joint investigation with NSW Fair Trading, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Commonwealth (on behalf of the Department of Education and Training) have instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against one training organisation, Unique International College Pty Lt 

Investigations into the sales practices of other private training colleges are underway. 

Mr Stowe said making false and misleading representations about approval or sponsorship for goods and services is unlawful under the Australian Consumer Law.

“Unsolicited door-to-door sales are not the best way for consumers to make informed decisions about major purchases such as training services and loans,” he said.

“Consumers should not sign up on the spot. Instead, they may accept the information being offered if they are interested, then undertake their own research into the best course, reputable training organisation, course delivery method and payment options that suit their individual career needs.

“Consumers may then choose to contact a registered training organisation of their choice if they wish to negotiate an agreement.

Consumers can request a door-to-door marketer to leave their premises at any time, and can use prominent ‘Do not knock’ signs to tell marketers they are not interested in any door-to-door marketing.”

Further tips, are available in a fact sheet and multilingual brochures on Fair Trading’s website: http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/About_us/News_and_events/Whats_new/A_free_gift_could_cost_you_thousands.page