If a product or service breaks or isn't fit for purpose, ask for a repair, replacement, or refund.

Your rights

Repairs, replacements, and refunds are known as remedies. You can ask for a remedy under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). You should be able to get a repair, replacement, or refund if:

  • products or services don't do what they are meant to or are defective.
  • products or services are different from their description, for example, on packaging or in advertising.
  • products don't match the sample or model you were shown.
  • products or services are not reasonably fit for a particular purpose you told the seller about.
  • the retailer did not have the right to sell the product.
  • delivery is late or never arrives, or products are damaged in transit.

Consumer products are things bought from a business for personal or household use.

The likelihood of getting one of these remedies depends on:

  • what types of products or services you bought, and their uses
  • what the seller told you about the product or service
  • how you paid
  • if you bought them from a business or privately.

Repair damage after normal use

Online shopping

If you bought online from an overseas seller, your rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act and Fair Trading Act might still apply but it can be difficult to enforce them and resolve issues.

Online shopping

Not covered

Shops are not legally required to give you a refund or replacement if you have just changed your mind.

Change of mind

The Consumer Guarantees Act doesn't cover:

  • commercial products
  • real estate
  • private sales, such as garage sales, school galas or buying second-hand from private sellers (not traders) on sites like Trade Me.

Private sales and second-hand goods

Businesses should not say they don't give refunds, or put conditions to refunds, such as set time frames. This could break the Fair Trading Act, by misleading you on your Consumer Guarantees Act rights.

Your obligations as a business(external link) — Commerce Commission

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Find out if you can get a repair, replacement, or refund

Use our consumer rights finders for products, services, after buying a car, and flights. Check your rights

If things go wrong

Speak to the retailer or supplier as soon as you discover a problem. Explain what the problem is and how you would like it to be resolved. If it's a minor problem, the supplier can choose whether to have the goods repaired or replace them. If the problem is substantial, you can refuse a repair and request a replacement or a refund. You should take your proof of purchase with you, for example, your receipt or bank statement, or the contract for services.

How to complain

More help

Get support at any point from:

  • Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) – a free, independent service, run by volunteers. CAB can advise you on your consumer rights and obligations, in person, by phone, or online.
  • Community Law Centre – offers free one-on-one legal advice to people with limited finances. The organisation has 24 community law centres throughout the country. You can find legal information and other resources on its website.

A CAB near you(external link) – Citizens Advice Bureau

Our law centres(external link) – Community Law Centres

Take it further

If you can't resolve your issue directly with the business, the Disputes Tribunal or District Court may be your next step.

What the Tribunal can help with(external link)  — Disputes Tribunal

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Examples of common situations

Example — Change of mind, so no refund

Roha buys a jacket from a shop. When she got home, she decided she didn't really like it. She went back to the shop the next day to ask for a refund. The shop assistant refused, saying that their returns policy stated they did not refund for change of mind. Roha kept the jacket.

Example — Buyer has to pay postage for a return

James bought a pair of running shoes online. The website's delivery information said he should receive the shoes in three to five days. Three weeks and several phone calls later, the shoes finally arrived. James had become sick of waiting and bought shoes elsewhere. He returned the shoes to get a refund because of late delivery. He had to cover the cost of postage, as under the Consumer Guarantees Act, it's the buyer's responsibility to return an item — unless doing so is particularly difficult or expensive.