But you can't inspect products before buying so it can be hard to judge the quality and authenticity of a product, and to check if the product claims are true. Items bought online may not be delivered and it can be difficult to work through issues with the seller if things go wrong.

Your consumer rights

Your consumer rights are the same whether you buy online or in a store. The law applies to all traders who advertise or sell to New Zealand consumers, even if the trader is based outside of New Zealand.

Traders who sell online must also make it clear that they are in trade, so that consumers know they are protected under the Fair Trading Act and the Consumer Guarantees Act.

What you need to know

There are a few things you can do to help ensure you have a good experience when buying online.

Do your research

  • Has anyone you know bought from this site – what was their experience?
  • Look at online reviews and feedback. Remember that it can be hard to confirm if reviews are authentic and unbiased – a seller could pay for good reviews, or select only positive reviews to display on their website.
  • Search for information about the trader or site such as their location or parent company – if a website has a .co.nz web address it does not mean they are based in New Zealand.
  • Search online and compare prices with similar products.
  • Look at our Buyer Beware page or Scamwatch for any consumer alerts about traders or sales practices to be wary of.
  • To see other guidance on your rights with online sales, privacy policies and daily deal or group buying websites visit the Consumer Protection website.
  • To keep yourself safe and secure online, visit the CERT NZ website.

Check the details before you buy

To ensure you get what you expected when you expect it, look at details such as:

  • delivery costs and timeframes
  • currency and exchange rates
  • returns policy
  • terms and conditions.
Duty and GST

When you buy something online from another country and get it shipped to New Zealand, you may have to pay GST, Customs charges and duties.

To find out more and estimate what additional charges you may need to pay for your online purchase, use Customs' duty estimator.

Getting help

If you think that you have been misled by an online trader, you can report them to us. You can also take your own legal action under the Fair Trading Act.

If you think a trader has not met their obligations you can call us on 0800 943 600 or make a complaint online.

The Commission’s role

We enforce the Fair Trading Act which gives consumers rights and sets rules businesses must comply with. The Commission can investigate a business and take enforcement action where the rules have been broken.

Read more about our role.