Doorstep selling, also known as door-to-door selling or Haustürgeschäfte, is a commercial practice where traders visit consumers' homes in an attempt to sell them goods or to provide services, even though they have not been invited to do so.
Although this practice is now authorised in Luxembourg—in compliance with European law which provides that a door-to-door sales visit from a trader at the home of a consumer does not constitute an illegal act—there is some legislation in place to protect the consumer. In particular, this relates to mandatory information that must be provided by traders when they knock on the door.
Consumers can also ask traders offering goods or services to leave their premises and not return. Lastly, consumers who do not wish to be disturbed whilst in their own home can indicate their complete refusal of door-to-door selling.
In practice, there are two possible scenarios: consumers can either place a sticker or any other distinctive sign on their front door, or close by, indicating their refusal of doorstep selling or, if they do not, accept that doorstep sellers could call at their home.
No sticker or sign on the front door
If consumers fail to place a sticker, or any other sign indicating that doorstep sellers are unwelcome, at the entrance to their house, apartment or at the main entrance to their residence, this means that they agree that traders could call at their home to offer them goods or services. Two scenarios are then possible.
The consumer asks the trader to leave and/or not return.
Under normal circumstances, traders should normally respect the consumer's wishes and leave the premises. However, if the trader insists on entering the consumer's house or apartment, and if the consumer ends up letting the trader in and then purchases goods or services, the consumer is entitled to take legal action to request that any contract that has been signed be declared null and void and that any money paid be returned. The request to have the contract declared null and void does not have to be made within 14 days.
Providing proof: the consumer must prove that they asked the trader to leave or not to return. Proof may be provided by any means, such as, for example, by witnesses. If the consumer is pressured into signing a contract after having attempted to refuse to enter into a discussion with the trader, and if there is a problem with providing proof, the consumer must not waste any time in exercising their right of withdrawal.
The consumer allows the trader to enter their home and signs a contract
It is perfectly legal for consumers to purchase goods, or to order services, in their own home. If they do so, then they enjoy certain rights.
The right to certain information
Before signing a contract, consumers must be given, amongst other things, information regarding:
- the main characteristics of the goods or service;
- the total price;
- the traders' name, their address, telephone number and email address, if available, so that the consumer can contact them without delay;
- the identity of the trader for whom the person knocking at the door works;
- the delivery date of the goods or service;
- the transport costs;
- the right of withdrawal and a special withdrawal form.
The consumer is entitled to receive this information on paper.
If the consumer fails to receive this information, and if said information—or any other information that the trader is obliged to provide—is deemed to be essential, the consumer can take legal action to request that the contract be declared null and void and that the money paid to the trader be reimbursed.
Right of withdrawal
Consumers have 14 calendar days to withdraw from the contract. The 14-day withdrawal period begins:
- on the day on which the contract is signed, for contracts for the provision of services; or
- on the day on which the goods are delivered, for contracts for the delivery of goods.
Note: withdrawal is not an option if the service is performed in full after the consumer has given their approval and has acknowledged the loss of their right of withdrawal.
If the trader failed to inform the consumer of their right of withdrawal and did not provide the special withdrawal form, the deadline for withdrawal is extended by one year. In addition, the trader may not claim compensation for any loss of value of the goods used during that time, or for any services provided if the consumer was not informed of their right of withdrawal.
Explicit refusal of all doorstep selling by displaying a sticker
If consumers do not want traders to come calling at their home to sell them goods or offer them services, they can place a sticker or any other sign indicating that doorstep sellers are unwelcome at the entrance to their house, apartment or at the main entrance to their residence. The consumer can choose the type and wording of this sign themselves, provided that the refusal to accept doorstep selling is clearly expressed.
For example: "Colportage Nee merci", "Pas de colportage", "Non au porte-à-porte", "Colporteurs et démarcheurs interdits d’accès" or "Keine Haustürgeschäfte" (No door-to-door selling; No doorstep trading; etc.).
To assist consumers who wish to demonstrate their desire not to be disturbed in their own home, the Government has had a sticker designed, which can be obtained free of charge, from:
- The Luxembourg Consumer Association (Union luxembourgeoise des consommateurs - ULC), 55 rue des Bruyères, L-1274 Howald, Tel. 49 60 22- 1;
- the European Consumer Centre (Centre européen des consommateurs - CEC), 2A rue Kalchesbrück, L-1852 Luxembourg, Tel. 26 84 64-1;
- communal administration offices (citizens are asked to find out from their commune, in advance, whether the stickers are actually available);
- police stations;
- the De Guichet reception desk at 11, rue Notre-Dame (opposite Knuedler) in Luxembourg City.
If, despite the sticker or any other sign indicating refusal of entry to the building, traders still come calling to offer their goods or services and, in spite of everything, the consumer still signs a contract, they can take legal action to request that the contract be declared null and void and that any money paid be returned. The request to have the contract declared null and void does not have to be made within 14 days.
Traders risk a substantial fine of between EUR 251 and EUR 120,000, as well as the confiscation of their merchandise and car, even if the latter is not owned by the traders themselves. They still run these risks even if the consumer ends up not signing a contract.
Consumers also have the right to withdraw from contracts within 14 days, without having to give a reason.