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, eg 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
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.
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, eg garage sales, school galas or buying second-hand from private sellers (not traders) on sites like TradeMe.
Private sales and second-hand goods
Businesses should not say they don't give refunds, or put conditions to refunds, eg set time frames. This could break the Fair Trading Act, by misleading you on your Consumer Guarantees Act rights.
Your oligations as a business(external link) — Commerce Commission
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 fairly 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, eg your receipt or bank statement, or the contract for services.
How to complain
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
Examples of common situations