Your consumer rights explained

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

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As a consumer it is important that you know your rights. When buying goods and services you are protected by both the Fair Trading Act and the Consumer Guarantees Act.  These ensure that the products you purchase are of good quality and are reasonably priced. The information below explains how these laws can protect you in the marketplace.

The Fair Trading Act

The Fair Trading Act exists to protect consumers from misleading and unfair practices by traders.  Under the Act, a business must not:

1. Mislead consumers as to the nature of a product.

2.Give false information about their product.

3.Use Unfair trade practices.

4.Make unsubstantiated claims about a product.

5.Include unfair contract terms

The Fair Trading Act also requires traders wanting to sell extended warranties, to disclose information about the extended warranty to the consumer. They must also provide a cooling off period during which the consumer is allowed to cancel the agreement.


The FTA covers all advertising and selling of goods and services by traders, but doesn't cover private sales.  In general a business is not allowed to contract out of their obligations to a consumer under the Fair Trading Act, even if the consumer agrees to it in writing.

A business is allowed to contract out of some of the FTA provisions if the buyer is also a business, they both agree to it in writing, and it is fair and reasonable for them to do so.

The Consumer Guarantees Act

When a consumer purchases goods or services in New Zealand from a trader for personal use, they are covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act.  This means that the goods must conform to the following guarantees:

1.They have to be of acceptable quality and last for a reasonable time.

2.They must fit their specific purpose.

3.They have to match their description.

4.They have to match the showroom model.

5.The manufacturer or importer must take  steps to provide spare parts and repair facilities.

6.The  guarantee of timely delivery, which means that where a supplier is arranging the delivery of the goods they must ensure that the consumer receives them in the agreed time period.

When you buy services within New Zealand, they are covered by the following guarantees:

1.They must be provided with reasonable care

2.They must be fit for the intended purpose

3.They must be completed in a reasonable time

4.They must be a reasonable price.

It is important to note that if you buy goods for commercial purposes, then the trader can contract out of the Consumer Guarantees Act.  The Act does not apply if you buy privately from friends.


If you think your rights have been breached, then do the following.  Retain all receipts and documentation relating to the transaction.  Take this with you to the service provider to help support your case.  Explain to them the exact nature of the problem and what you want to achieve. If there is an issue, this may sort the problem out.  If this fails to work, then writing a letter of complaint may resolve the issue.
Another strategy is to make a complaint to the Commerce Commission. This can be helpful if you think the business has breached the Fair trading Act.

The types of complaints they investigate can include:

A business making unsubstantiated claims about a product or service.

Door to door salesmen who does not give customers the required information when selling goods.

Retailers giving misleading information to customers about the consumer's right to cancel  an extended warranty agreement.

For more information about your legal rights, please see the Your Legal Rights section of this site.








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