When a business supplies you with consumer services, e.g. household plumbing, a haircut, or fixing your car, four consumer guarantees apply under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA).
Services include any rights, benefits or facilities provided by a supplier, even if they do so free of charge or you don’t have a contract with the supplier.
The CGA also specifies a wide range of contracts that are services, e.g.:
- contracts for the performance of work
- contracts of insurance
- banking contracts
- care or service of others or animals
- supply of electricity, telecommunications, gas, water, and removal of wastewater.
Contracts and quotes for services can include extra rights and responsibilities and specific information for both you and the provider, e.g. cancellations, pricing, timeframes. The provider or business cannot include conditions in the contract which erase your rights under the Act.
For more information on contracts, quotes, and estimates, including types of contracts and the language they use, see:
Contracts and sales agreements
Quotes and estimates
Your rights when buying services
All consumer services must be:
Carried out with reasonable care and skill
This generally means that any work done must be at least as good as the work of a competent person with average skills and experience for that type of work.
Reasonable skill is about applying technical know-how. Reasonable care is how much care is taken to do the job properly.
Fit for a particular purpose you told the seller about
When you’ve told the service provider what work you want them to do and they accept the job, they must make sure you get what you want.
If the service provider can’t guarantee the work they’ll do will give you the result you want, they have to tell you before they start the job. But they can’t simply get out of their responsibilities by warning you that the job may not be satisfactory if they are inexperienced in that trade.
If they used reasonable skill and care but the work doesn't meet your expectations because you weren't clear about what you wanted, the trader may not be responsible.
When you are given a choice of options for the work at different prices, if you take the lowest price option it may be less fit for purpose. It is reasonable that you may have lower expectations due to the cheaper cost.
Sometimes it may not be appropriate for you to rely on discussions with an employee of that service provider, eg the receptionist in a large service company. Where possible, make sure you speak to the person who's doing the work, or who's responsible for making sure you get what you've asked for.
If you insist on a service that the supplier tells you won’t give the result you want, you might not be able to rely on the ‘fit for purpose’ or ‘reasonable care and skill’ guarantees.
Carried out within a reasonable time if no timeframe agreed
If you and the service provider haven’t agreed on a time to finish a job, the provider must do so within a reasonable time. Reasonable time is judged on the time it takes a competent person who works in that type of job to complete the task.
Electricity and gas services
Electricity and gas services must meet a specific guarantee of acceptable quality. This guarantee applies instead of the general CGA guarantees that apply to products and services.
Consumer guarantees for gas and electricity services
Services not covered
The CGA does not apply to:
- commercial services — services normally bought for business use or work normally carried out for a business
- private sales — when you buy from someone who is not in trade
- contracts of service — the performance of work under an employment contract
- work done by a charity for your benefit.
Businesses can agree in writing that the CGA doesn't apply if personal or household services are bought for business use, e.g. carpet cleaning in a shop.