The CGA covers you for products that don’t do what they are meant to, or are defective or faulty in some way.
Any products you buy should be of acceptable quality. This means the products should:
- be satisfactory in look and finish
- be free from small faults
- last for a reasonable time
- be safe to use
- do everything they are commonly used for.
These factors are used to test whether a reasonable person would think a product is faulty or not, taking into account:
- who supplied the products, eg an established chain vs flea market trader
- age and type of products — second-hand products are more likely to show signs of use and may be less durable
- price — poor-quality products are usually cheaper
- statements made about quality or condition by the salesperson or in advertising.
If you are specifically told about any faults when you buy the product, you can’t claim because of them later on.
Consumer Guarantees Act
What to do if:
It's an electrical product
Electrical appliances must be safe even if they are sold second-hand by a private seller. If you buy second-hand, get the product checked out by an expert or qualified person if you can.
All electrical products, new and secondhand, must comply with:
- electrical safety requirements
- product safety standards
- any unsafe goods notices.
It's a digital download or streaming
Digital products include software and internet downloads or streaming, eg music, games, movies and e-books.
The CGA applies to digital products. So you have the right to a refund, repair or replacement for faulty digital products supplied by New Zealand businesses.
Watch out for:
- illegal (pirated) copies
- faulty downloads
- unfair contract terms, eg limiting liability if downloading orstreaming doesn't work
- limited information on customer helplines and how to complain
- online scams.
Manufacturer's warranties and extended warranties
If products come with a manufacturer's warranty, or you have paid for an extra extended warranty, your rights under the CGA still apply.
These extra warranties are in addition to CGA protections, so make sure it will offer you more than what you are already entitled to under the law. For example, a manufacturer might offer a 'lifetime warranty' for a product. Under the CGA a product only has to last a reasonable time, so this manufacturer's warranty would cover you even after your rights under the CGA have expired.
When you can’t claim under the CGA
You can’t claim if:
- you used the product in a way that a reasonable consumer would not
- you used the product so much that it is reasonable that it broke
- you broke or lost the product
- you modified the product and this is what caused the issue.
If things go wrong
Go back to the retailer or supplier as soon as you discover the fault. Explain what the problem is and how you would like it to be resolved. It's a good idea to take proof of purchase, eg receipt or bank statement, or the contract for services.
It is your responsibility to return a faulty product. But if postage will be expensive or complicated, then the business must pay for it to be collected or posted. Keep your receipts to recover reasonable postage or transportation costs.
A faulty product does not have to be in its original packaging to get a refund.
If once it's checked the product turns out not to be faulty, you may be required to pay the transport or inspection costs. An estimate should be provided to you first, or outlined in the terms and conditions.
How to complain
If the fault can be fixed and isn’t serious
You must give the retailer the opportunity to:
- repair the products within a reasonable time and free of charge
- replace products of an identical type and value within a reasonable time — you only have to pay the difference if you choose a replacement of greater value
- refund the value of the products in full, in the same form as your original payment.
If a product is faulty, the retailer can’t simply offer you store credit. They must fix or replace it, or give you a refund. A 'reasonable time' is how long it would take other retailers to fix or replace the products.
If they refuse to fix the problem, take longer than a reasonable time to fix it, or don't fix it at all, you can:
- get the products repaired elsewhere and claim the cost of those repairs from the retailer
- reject the products and claim a refund or replacement products.
All refunds must be paid in cash, or however the products were paid for originally.
If it’s a serious fault
You can legally:
- keep the product and claim compensation for the loss in value
- reject the product and get an identical replacement
- reject the product and ask for a full refund.
If you reject a product because of a serious problem and ask for a refund, you don't have to accept a credit note or an exchange of products instead of cash.
A problem with a product is considered serious if:
- a reasonable consumer would not have bought the product if they had known about the fault
- products are significantly different from their description, sample, or demonstration model
- products are not fit for their normal or specific purpose and can’t easily be put right
- the products are unsafe.
Factors that influence whether a fault is serious include:
- If you have only had the products for a short time then the fault is more likely to be serious.
- The more expensive a product is, the more likely it is that the fault may be serious.
- How different the product is to any claims made in the advertising, packaging or made by the seller.
- If there have been any other faults — a series of minor faults might become serious if they add up to a loss of confidence in the reliability of a product.
The retailer must give you enough information to be able to make an informed choice about the remedies. If you choose to reject a product, you must do it in a reasonable time. A reasonable time means soon after the date you became aware of a defect.
If the fault caused extra losses (consequential loss)
If a faulty product has caused damage to your property, you can claim compensation. But there is a limit to what you can claim. The loss must be ‘reasonably foreseeable’ and you must minimise or avoid any extra loss if possible. Sometimes it is hard to put an amount on the loss you have suffered because the damage has also affected other property. You may need to seek legal advice on this.
A retailer or manufacturer can’t opt out of consequential loss so they’re not liable, unless the services are being bought for a business purpose.
If you bought faulty products on credit
Although you should go to the retailer first to get faulty products fixed, let your lender know about the problem too.
If the retailer has gone out of business or refuses to act, you might be able to get a remedy from your lender instead if the retailer arranged the credit contract. In these cases, the lender is also responsible for quality guarantees under the CGA.
Cancelling your credit contract
If you can't go back to the retailer
If the retailer has gone out of business or you have problems dealing with them, you may want to go to the manufacturer instead:
- If the fault has resulted in the products losing some of their value, you're entitled to ask the manufacturer for a refund of some of the purchase price. But, if they have given you a warranty saying they will repair or replace the products then you have to give them a chance to do that first.
- You can ask them to pay for any extra damage caused by the products (consequential loss), but not if the problem is caused by an event outside of human control, such as an earthquake.
If you can't agree a solution directly with the retailer, our Resolve a problem tool has information to help you take the next steps. This may include going to the Disputes Tribunal or District Court.
Faulty products and services — Resolve a problem