Your rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act when you have a problem with a product or service you've paid for.
Consumer guarantees and your rights
The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) (external link) protects consumers by, among other things:
- making repairs, replacements or refunds part of law
- setting minimum standards that businesses have to meet.
Everyone from your garden store owner to your electrician has to meet their responsibilities under the CGA. This means that if you’ve a problem with a product or service, you can do something about it.
Who is a consumer?
A consumer is anyone who buys products or services for ordinary personal or household use (consumer products and services). It includes public bodies and businesses who are buying consumer products or services.
What businesses does the CGA apply to?
The CGA applies to anyone in trade such as:
- online traders
- finance companies
NOTE: The law now states that all online sellers who operate as traders must make it clear to potential buyers that they are traders. This includes when they sell through an intermediary website like Trade Me.
Consumer guarantees for products
The CGA gives you rights if the products you buy or are supplied by a business are faulty and do not meet any of the guarantees under the Act.
All consumer products must:
- be of acceptable quality (durable, safe, fit for purpose, free from defects, acceptable in look or finish)
- be fit for any particular purpose you have told the supplier
- match a description, sample or model shown to you
- have good legal title, eg be able to be sold and not have any security interests registered against them
- be a reasonable price if no price is set
- arrive on time (within a reasonable time if not agreed) and in good condition
- have spare parts and repair facilities available (manufacturer is responsible). This does not apply if you are told about limited availability before you buy.
> Read more about Consumer Guarantees for products
Consumer guarantees for services
The CGA gives you rights if the services you purchase or are supplied by a business do not meet any of the guarantees under the Act.
All consumer services must be:
- carried out with reasonable care and skill
- fit for any particular purpose that you’ve told the service provider about
- carried out within a reasonable time if you haven’t agreed the time for completing the work
- charged for at a reasonable price if you haven’t agreed a price for the work.
> Read more about Consumer Guarantees for services
Consumer guarantees for gas and electricity services
Under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), consumers have a guarantee of acceptable quality for the supply of electricity and reticulated gas only (piped gas supplied by a retailer). This guarantee applies instead of the general CGA guarantees that apply to products and services.
> Read more about Consumer Guarantees for gas and electricity services
When the CGA doesn't apply
Consumer guarantees do not apply if you:
- are buying products or services privately
- are buying commercial products or services eg industrial machinery and trucks
- are buying products for resale, resupply or use in a manufacturing process (business purpose)
- both parties are in business and have a written agreement to contract out of the CGA specifically
- got what you asked for but simply changed your mind
- misused or altered a product in any way that caused the problem, eg not following manufacturer’s instructions for use
- if you disposed of, lost, destroyed or damaged products after delivery
- knew of or were made aware of the faults before you bought the product
- asked for a service to be done in a certain way against the advice of the business or were unclear about what you wanted
- took an unreasonable time to reject the products
- relied on anyone else's advice or conduct that caused the problem other than the service provider or their agent
- experienced a service problem that was outside of the service provider’s control, eg. the Christchurch earthquake.
Contracting out of the CGA
A retailer or supplier can’t state the CGA does not apply (contracting out of their obligations). The only exception to this is where products or services are acquired for a business purpose and:
- you as the buyer and the seller are in trade and agree to this
- the agreement is in writing
- it is fair and reasonable to do so.
A manufacturer can, however, contract out of the spare parts and repair facilities guarantee as long as consumers are told this in writing before they buy the products.
A business who tries to contract out of the Act in any other circumstances commits an offence under the Fair Trading Act
Read the Commerce Commission's factsheet on misleading consumers about their rights (external link) .
If you are unable to resolve your issue directly with the retailer, manufacturer or service provider, our Resolve It tool has information to help you take the next steps.
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