It is important that as a consumer, you know your rights.
Whether you are buying goods or services in a shop, online, over the phone, or signing up to a consumer loan, you have rights.
Businesses and salespeople must not mislead you about a product or service, including details about the price, quality, features, or any discounts – everything must be accurate and clearly described. Contracts must not contain unfair terms.
Consumers should not be misled
The Fair Trading Act makes it illegal for traders to mislead consumers, give false information, or use unfair practices. The law applies to anyone in trade – from big organisations like hotel chains, airlines and department stores, to small or temporary businesses like a souvenir stall or ice cream stand.
It also applies to advertising in all forms such as online, print, TV, social media - and in all dealings with consumers.
Consumers must be able to rely on the information traders provide when buying goods and services.
Businesses must describe goods and services accurately
Whenever a business promotes or sells their goods and services they must use accurate and clear information. This is regardless of whether it is said verbally or in writing. It also includes the overall impression given by pictures, advertisements, promotional material or a sales pitch. It isn't only about what information you are given, it includes impressions given when important information is left out.
Businesses must provide reliable quotes and estimates
Traders must not mislead potential customers when giving quotes and estimates. Consumers need to be able to rely on these quotes when they decide whether to purchase something.
Terms of a consumer contract must be fair
If you book a flight, join a gym or get a mobile phone, you have agreed a contract. The unfair contract term provisions are designed to increase consumer protection from contracts which are unfairly balanced towards the business.
Lenders must make information about their loans freely available to you at their offices or on their websites. This will help you compare interest rates and fees and other loan features between lenders.
Lenders should also comply with the responsible lending principles. These include that a lender must make sure any loan you get is suitable for your needs, and you can afford it.
When buying goods and services as a consumer, you have rights. For example the Consumer Guarantees Act provides consumers with a range of guarantees about goods they buy for personal use such as that they are of an acceptable quality. If you have an issue with something you have purchased, you have a few options to resolve it.
There are several consumer laws which ensure consumers are not misled or taken advantage of. You can read more about the three we enforce below.
Fair Trading Act
The Fair Trading Act protects consumers from misleading and deceptive trader behaviour, and unfair trading practices. These behaviours can include anything from false claims about what a product is made from or where it comes from, unfair sales practices, and key details being hidden in fine print.
The Act also deals with other specific consumer issues such as unfair contract terms, uninvited direct sales, product safety, layby sales, and pyramid schemes.
The Act covers all aspects of the promotion and sale of goods and services.
Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act
The Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act sets the rules for businesses that lend money or provide finance to consumers, for example a cash loan, a home loan or a credit card. It puts the responsibility on lenders to make reasonable checks that a borrower can afford to pay back the loan, and certain other responsibilities.
The Act details the information lenders must disclose to borrowers or guarantors before they borrow money, and the process that must be followed to collect debt or repossess a borrower's security items. It also requires that all fees be reasonable. The Act does not set a limit on interest rates, but interest rates and the contract as a whole must not be oppressive.
The Commerce Act aims to promote competition in markets within New Zealand for the long-term benefit of consumers. It covers both business competition and market regulation.