Each year we receive around 7,000 complaints from consumers, businesses and community organisations such as, consumer rights groups, citizens advice bureaus and budgeting services. Around 500 of these will go be investigated after our initial assessment.

We cannot investigate all potential breaches of the laws we enforce, so we have a framework to help us decide what to investigate. Read about our priorities and our Investigation Guidelines to find out more about this framework.

Investigations can take some time, so we advise complainants to also seek their own remedy from the trader or with the assistance of another organisation such as a dispute resolution service.

Our process

All complaints made to us are logged in our database and assessed. As part of the assessment phase, we look at whether the complaint:

  • raises any concerns under a law we enforce
  • is factually correct
  • is within our jurisdiction
  • identifies any real harm
  • concerns recent conduct
  • is in the public interest to pursue
  • may be more effectively dealt with by other agencies
  • involves private parties who are able to try to resolve their own dispute.

After this assessment, we use our Enforcement Criteria to determine whether to take the complaint further. Some complaints will move to an investigation, some will be closed and others may be referred to another agency if they are better suited to act.

During the investigation stage, we gather and analyse evidence so that we can form a view on whether a breach of the law may have occurred. Read our Investigation Guidelines and Enforcement Response Guidelines to find out more about our investigation processes and available enforcement responses.

We do not contact the business being complained about unless we open an investigation or decide to take further action. If you want to know if complaints have been made to the Commission about your business , you can make a request for that information under the Official Information Act. Read more about Requesting Official Information.

What happens if my business is being investigated?

Our Investigation Guidelines give you detailed information about our investigation process and what to expect if you are being investigated.

The guidelines cover a wide range of topics, such as:

  • how we make decisions
  • how we go about getting evidence and information
  • what compulsory powers we have and how we decide to use them
  • whether and when we will do media statements or provide public information about an investigation.

Read more about customer complaints on the business.govt.nz website.

Raising a complaint about a competitor

If you believe a competitor or other business has breached one of the laws we enforce, you can make a complaint to us by using our online form or call 0800 934 600.