If a product is recalled, you get a remedy from the seller or maker. This might be replacement parts or a refund — what you get depends on what's caused the issue.
There are two types of product recall:
- Voluntary — when a recall is launched by a business after they identify a quality or safety issue.
- Compulsory — when a safety recall is ordered by the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
Don’t keep using a product that’s been recalled for safety reasons. You might be happy to accept the risk, but someone else might use it without knowing the danger.
Current product safety recalls
A list of products recalled in New Zealand is on the Product Recalls website, including vehicles and non-prescription medicines:
Latest product recalls(external link) — Product Recalls
Vehicle recalls are on the Product Recalls website, and also NZTA's online database:
Safety recalls database(external link) — NZTA
Food safety recalls are handled by the Ministry for Primary Industries:
Recalled food products(external link) — Ministry for Primary Industries
Recalled medical devices and prescription medicines:
Medsafe recalls(external link) — Medsafe
Recalls for quality reasons are handled by the maker or supplier. These businesses might run adverts or use social media to let people know about the recall.
Acting on a recall
The recall notice should:
- identify the product being recalled
- explain the problem or risk if it's a safety recall
- set out the remedy on offer
- explain what you need to do to get the remedy
- give contact details for the business.
The business recalling the product should pay any costs involved and make the process as easy for you as possible.
If you would prefer a different remedy, or are worried about the method of returning it, talk to the business about other options.
If you throw away a product recalled for safety reasons, make sure it can’t be used again. Otherwise someone could try to reuse it or sell it. This could put them at risk.
Your rights if a product is recalled
Your rights to a refund or replacement depends on whether the fault makes the recalled product unsafe to use or not.
Sometimes the business will repair the product, eg by fitting a new part. They should arrange for this to be done for you.
You can't claim a full refund or a replacement if you have had the product for some time, and a fault occurs that:
- can be easily and quickly repaired
- the retailer or manufacturer offers a prompt repair with all costs covered.
If a fault makes a product unsafe to use — and it's difficult to correct the fault — the Consumer Guarantees Act says you might have the right to reject the product and claim a replacement or a refund.
For example, you might be able to reject a heater recalled because of fire risk. But a car recall is likely to involve free repairs to replace faulty parts, eg airbags or brake pads. You can't reject the car and ask for a refund as the fault can be fixed.
If you decide to reject a recalled product, you must tell the retailer who sold it to you what you are doing, and why. You paid the retailer, so under the Consumer Guarantees Act it is up to them to provide the remedy — not the manufacturer.
If things go wrong
If the remedy offered under the recall doesn't work for you, you can ask for a different remedy. Explain what you want and why.
If you can’t agree on a remedy for a recalled product with the retailer, you can take a claim to the Disputes Tribunal.
You will have to show the product is not of acceptable quality or it is unsafe to use. You can also claim compensation for extra loss or damage, if you can show these directly relate to the failure of the product.
Take your complaint further