A standard form consumer contract is a contract you accept on a take it or leave it basis — you can't negotiate the terms. If you think a term is unfair, you can apply to the Commerce Commission under the FTA to have it reviewed.
The Commerce Commission then decides if they will ask the District Court to declare the term unfair. The Court must be satisfied that the term in a contract:
- causes a significant imbalance between you and the business
- is not reasonably necessary to protect the business's legitimate interests
- would cause detriment if enforced.
The contract as a whole is considered, as it might offer benefits that outweigh any unfairness.
Some terms are exempt, and can’t be declared unfair if they:
- define the main subject matter of the contract such as the services or products to be supplied
- set the up-front price payable under the contract
- are expressly allowed by law.
Once a contract is agreed to or signed, cancelling it can be difficult. Early cancellation fees are common. This is considered fair if it is a reasonable estimate of the loss the business will suffer from the cancellation.
For more information on contracts, your rights, cancellations and common tricky words and phrases, see:
Contracts and sales agreements
Unfair contract terms guidelines(external link) — Commerce Commission