Cleaner who took advantage of older Victorians ordered to stop trading

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A door-to-door salesman who targeted elderly Victorians has been ordered to stop 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 (above), 73, of Reservoir, in the Supreme Court to put a stop to his illegal sales tactics, including demanding up-front cash payments for his carpet and upholstery cleaning services.

In late 2015 and early 2016, five victims reported Mr Donald to Consumer Affairs Victoria including an 89-year-old pensioner who was left frightened and unable to sleep after Mr Donald forced his way into her home and bullied her into writing a cheque for $600 – despite her insistence that she could not afford it

On another instance, Mr Donald demanded an 74-year-old man on oxygen pay him $500 in cash for carpet cleaning, after entering the man’s home uninvited.

Mr Donald also forced an elderly couple to pay him $450 after he insisted he had cleaned their carpet seven years previously, and that it needed to be done again.

In all cases, 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 2016, 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.

On 19 December, Justice Robson of the Supreme Court said that Mr Donald had ‘flagrantly failed to observe the laws designed to protect consumers’.

Mr Donald was ordered to pay his victims various sums in refunds and damages. He was also ordered to pay 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,” Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Simon 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 salespeople can contact Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81.

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