Consumer Rights in New Zealand

It is important to know your rights as a consumer in New Zealand. A series of laws protect Kiwi consumers and dictate what traders can and can’t do in regards to selling and marketing their goods. Whether you are shopping online, over the phone or in-store, sellers cannot mislead you or hold you at the mercy of unfair contracts.

 

Fair Trading Act
The Fair Trading Act makes it illegal for traders to mislead or provide false information to customers. This law affects all levels of business, from megastore retailers to a market stall. The advertising used by these traders must be accurate, and their services described correctly. This doesn’t just include the information written down, but any verbal claims made by the trader are also taken into account. The overall impression that you have of the trader and their products matters too. They also must give you reliable quotes and estimates of the price of their service.

 

Credit Contract and Consumer Finance Act
The Credit Contract and Consumer Finance Act exist to protect anyone signing a contract for a mobile phone, a gym membership or a flight ticket. The Act means that the service provider is responsible for telling you all of the necessary information and not hiding things in the small print. If you are borrowing money, the information surrounding the loan must be freely available in full at the offices or website of the provider. You should also be free to compare rates and fees with other loan companies. The prices must be suitable for your needs, and they must investigate whether or not you’ll be financially able to pay back the loan. This Act doesn’t limit interest rates, but it does ensure that these rates are not oppressive.

 

Making a Complaint
If you need to make a complaint or resolve a dispute with a trader, you should first speak to the trader to try and resolve the issue together. This is the most common route to resolution and is essential to at least try before taking the complaint further. If that doesn’t work, you could go to the disputes tribunal to argue your case. This is usually a quick and effective way of resolving complaints. To take the next step, you could contact the commerce commission who can assist you further if you feel as though you have been misled or lied to by a trader. Finally, you could seek legal advice from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or Community Law centre.

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