Consistent sales practices make it easier for customers to buy from you. They can also help you:
- treat your customers fairly
- work within the law
- keep protected as a creditor when buying from businesses.
Make it clear what the customer needs to pay by including the description and price on your invoices. The customer can also ask you for an itemised bill for services within 30 days of the following (whichever happens last):
- the service
- getting an account.
For services, the itemised bill will need to show:
- the total cost
- labour hours and rate per hour
- the materials and their cost.
Make sure you give the bill to the customer within seven days of them asking for it.
You must give the customer proof of a transaction for goods or services worth $75 or more. This proof can a:
- tax invoice
- cash register receipt
- electronic receipt number.
The receipt must include:
- the business name and ABN (if you have one)
- ACN (if you have one or just ABN)
- date of the supply
- what was supplied
- the amount paid.
Orders and deliveries
The customer can’t see all the steps in a sale when they order something from your business. Tell customers when you have:
- received an order - written confirmation also helps you trace the order
- shipped an order - telling the customer that you have sent the order can help you finish the ordering process, track delivery and can prompt the customer to contact you if there is a problem.
Give customers clear information about deliveries - dates and approximate times - and if there are any delays in sending packages.
A lay-by agreement lets the customer pay for a product in two or more instalments before taking it home. The deposit is the first instalment. Any purchase paid for with at least three instalments is legally considered a lay-by.
The customer must be given a copy of the agreement that shows all terms and conditions, including cancellation fees.
Record of payments
Customers must be given a copy of the lay-by docket or a receipt that shows:
- the item
- the start date, due date of last payment and pick up date
- lay-by number
- record of the deposit or payments
- what happens if the customer doesn't pay on time
- the procedure if the business cancels the contract.
Cancelling the lay-by
A business can cancel a lay-by if the customer breaks the agreement - eg a missed payment.
If a customer cancels the lay-by, the business can charge cancellation fees to cover costs that can be proven, but only if the fees have been written into the agreement. Costs can include things like storage, depreciation and administration.
Consumers have extra protections when a salesperson contacts them at home, over the phone or in a public place - eg shopping centre.
Door-to-door salespeople must not visit a customer (without an appointment) at the following times:
- on a Sunday or a public holiday
- before 9.00 am or after 6.00 pm on a weekday
- before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm on a Saturday.
Salespeople must tell customers:
- their name
- who they work for
- why they're at the customer's door.
If the customer agrees to buy a product or service, the salesperson must:
- give the customer copies of any agreed contracts
- let the customer know about their cooling-off rights
- not supply any goods or services during the cooling-off period.
Customers can place a do not knock sign on their front door to stop door-to-door salespeople visiting without an appointment - this excludes religious groups or charity fundraisers.
Telemarketing and door-to-door sales, on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website, gives you more detail about the customer's legal rights with telemarketers and door-to-door salespeople.
When goods aren't picked up after things like repairs, the business may sell the items and keep some of the money to cover reasonable costs such as storage or selling costs.
Check the Unclaimed Goods Act 1987 to make sure you are acting legally for your particular situation.
Protect your interest
When a business goes bankrupt or goes into liquidation, secured creditors are among the first to be paid
Register a secure interest on the Personal Property Securities Register.