You can save money and improve your budget if you know your legal rights.
Return goods that are faulty or not as advertised. All goods and services must be fit for the purpose intended. Goods must have a reasonable trouble free lifespan, regardless of any guarantee or warranty. For example, a television set should not need any repairs for five years. If buying a new home appliance do not pay for an extended warranty because you are already covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act. You can check your consumer rights at www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz
If you think that the way a product or service is being provided is unfair, you can complain to the Commerce Commission. If you want to know your rights as a consumer or your rights and obligations when borrowing money or buying on credit, visit www.comcom.govt.nz
If you have a dispute with a business or tradesman, you can take it to the Disputes Tribunal for a ruling. A small fee is charged and you present your own case without any lawyers being involved.
If you have a dispute with your landlord that cannot be resolved, you can take it to the Tenancy Tribunal for a decision. www.tenancy.govt.nz/disputes/tribunal/
If you do need legal advice you can get free advice from a Community Law Centre.
The Employment Relations Service is a government agency that can give advice on employment rights and resolving workplace issues. Call free 0800 800 863 or visit www.employment.govt.nz/.
Information about employment agreements, your rights and health and safety is also available by visiting the New Zealand council of Trade Unions website union.org.nz
Before employing a lawyer, find out whether you can get legal aid, go to www.justice.govt.nz. If legal aid is not available, find out which lawyer has the cheapest hourly rate and the cheapest quoted cost for doing the work. It is unwise to employ a lawyer without knowing what you could end up paying. Tell the lawyer in writing that you cannot afford to pay more than what has been quoted.
Information on court procedures and forms is available by going to www.justice.govt.nz
If you have a problem with a Government Department or agency that you cannot resolve, you can make a complaint to the Ombudsman. www.ombudsman.parliament.nz
There is also a Banking Ombudsman who helps resolve disputes with banks. www.bankomb.org.nz
An Insurance and Savings Ombudsman deals with complaints about participating financial institutions. www.iombudsman.org.nz
Information relating to some common legal problems can be found under Guides to the law at www.lawsociety.org.nz. Guides include the following: buying and selling property, relationship property, family violence, giving evidence, going into business, living together, making a will, motor vehicles-accidents and alcohol, neighbours, the family trust.
The Citizens Advice Bureau has a lot of useful information on the following topics: consumer rights, government, law, money, education, health, housing, employment, travel and recreation. Visit www.cab.org.nz
Legal forms for use in property transactions and for many other situations can be purchased from www.legaldocuments.co.nz
Basic information about legal topics is available online together with some legal forms at How to Law. www.howtolaw.co.nz