Money & You

Know your rights! Part 2: The Consumer Guarantees Act Explained

May 6, 2023

Money is only as good as the life it can give you, so what if a product you’ve spent your hard-earned cash on doesn't live up to its promises? That's where the Consumer Guarantees Act comes in. This law protects your rights as a consumer in New Zealand by ensuring that products and services meet certain standards. Let's learn how this Act works and what it means for you and your money.

What is the Consumer Guarantees Act?

The Consumer Guarantees Act is a law that sets out basic standards for goods and services sold in New Zealand. It applies to all purchases made from businesses, including online purchases. The Act ensures that products and services are:

  • of acceptable quality, 
  • fit for their intended purpose, and, 
  • match their description. 

Consumer Guarantees for Products

Under the Act, products must be of acceptable quality, which means they must be safe, durable, and free from defects. They must also be fit for their ‘intended purpose’, meaning they must do what they are supposed to do. If a product doesn’t meet these standards, the business must provide a remedy within a reasonable timeframe.

Example

You buy a washing machine that stops working after the first three times you used it. Assuming the washing machine was used in the way it was supposed to be used (i.e. someone didn’t chuck bricks in there and give it a whirl), it’s reasonable to expect a replacement under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

Consumer Guarantees for Services

Services must also meet minimum standards under the Act. They must be carried out with reasonable care and skill and be fit for their intended purpose. If a service doesn’t meet these standards, the business must provide a remedy.

Example

You hire a roof cleaning company and they end up knocking tiles off your roof and creating a leak in your home. It’s reasonable to expect a remedy here, as this is a big mistake on their part and doesn’t show reasonable care and skill.

Exemptions from the Act

Some products and services are exempt from the Consumer Guarantees Act, but not many. This includes things like:

  • Goods bought for business use.
  • Buildings attached to land for residential accommodation.
  • Private sales (e.g. TradeMe auctions not from a business or garage sales).
  • Products bought by auction (before 17 June 2014).

You might still be protected in these cases under other acts, but not the Consumer Guarantees Act.

Your Rights Under the Consumer Guarantees Act

If a product or service does not meet the standards set out in the Act, you have the right to a remedy from the business. This can include:

  • repair, 
  • replacement, or, 
  • refund, depending on the circumstances. 

If the business refuses to provide a remedy, you can file a complaint with the Disputes Tribunal or the Commerce Commission.

Tips for Protecting Your Consumer Rights

To protect your rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act, keep receipts and other proof of purchase, and report any issues to the business as soon as possible. If you're not satisfied with the response, seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau (it’s free!) or another consumer rights organisation.

Summary

The Consumer Guarantees Act is an important law that protects your rights as a shopper in New Zealand. By understanding the Act, you’re not just making sure your hard-earned money is spent on quality products, but you’re also protecting the whanau and friends around you should they fall victim to shady practices too.

How well do you know your protections under the law?

This was originally posted as an education article on the Money Sweetspot customer portal. If you read this as one of our customers, you would've earned some money off your loan! Do the mahi, get the treats. Find out more.

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