Guidance for consumers on Cyclone Gabrielle

While businesses are free to set their own prices, there has been some public concern about price increases on goods and services at this time. If you feel you’re being asked to pay too much Report price increases on Price Watch — Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

The holiday season is something we all look forward to. It's a time filled with family celebrations, present swapping, trips to our favourite spots and restful moments in the sun.

A surfboard is drying on the grass. In the background is Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel.

Retailers also come to the party with bumper Black Friday, Boxing Day and end of season sales.

So the last thing you need or want is a painful purchase problem to deal with. We’ve put this guide together to help you avoid those problems and have a happy holiday season.

With so much to do at this time of year it makes sense to hop online to find a present or to make the most of the sales. But in all the excitement of grabbing the perfect gift or a big bargain, beware fake online shops and scammers. Avoid the disappointment of late deliveries or products that don’t do what they say they do.

To avoid costly scams and stay safe online:

  • Make sure the online shop has a padlock symbol next to the URL in your browser. This means the connection is encrypted and no one else can copy the information you provide.
  • Avoid fake online shops by checking that the street address or contact number matches up to a street map or other shop listing. 
  • Use trusted payment systems, like PayPal. Don’t supply payment details in an email.
  • Don’t be fooled by delivery text and email scams – check where they have come from before you click on any links or give away personal information.

Learn more about protecting your information online:

Shopping online safely(external link) — CERT NZ

More tips to shop safely online:

Online shopping

With businesses under additional pressure due to COVID-19 you may encounter service and supply problems.  

When shopping online, check that the expected delivery date is before you need it, especially if it’s a special delivery from Santa! If there is no delivery date provided then email the supplier to confirm delivery before you buy.

Check the exchange and refund conditions if the item is on sale or if you are purchasing from an international site as usual consumer guarantees may not apply.

Check the description of the product to make sure it meets your needs and expectations before you buy. Is it the type of quality you expect and does it have a safety or efficiency rating?

What to do if a service is poorly done, unfinished, takes too long, or doesn't work the way you expect: 

Poor quality or incomplete work

It's good to know your rights on faulty products: 

​​Faulty products

Guidance on delivery issues:

​​Delivery issues

With so many demands on your wallet at this time of year it’s easy to get carried away and find yourself with unexpected or unmanageable debt.

Layby and Buy Now Pay Later can be useful ways to defer payment but make sure you check the conditions before you sign up and keep good records so you don’t miss a payment.

Laybys and buy now, pay later

Retailers may offer attractive Hire Purchase deals as part of their holiday promotions. Before buying on hire purchase or credit, check your rights and what to expect. 

Hire purchase and buying on credit

Zero per cent interest deals might look attractive but it pays to understand the true costs of these types of deals before you sign up.

Understand the true cost​​

If you have overspent or are having trouble repaying a loan, there’s plenty of help available so don’t go it alone. Guidance and help with payment problems: 

Payment problems

What can you do if you received a gift that was faulty or unwanted?

The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) covers you for products that don’t do what they are meant to, or are defective or faulty in some way.

If a business sells a faulty consumer product, you can ask for it to be fixed. If a product fault is minor and can be fixed, the retailer can choose to repair the item, replace it, or refund your money.

This also applies to new or second-hand products bought through auctions, websites or an agent or broker selling on behalf of someone else... 

But private sales are not covered by the CGA eg buying from a private seller (not traders) on sites like TradeMe. 

A business usually doesn’t have to let you return an item you have simply changed your mind about. If you buy a gift, you can ask for an exchange card to give with it. Exchange cards usually have an expiry date. This date is important to know because a shop or online store is not obliged to honour an exchange card after that date.

Change of mind

​​Private sales and second-hand goods

When you’re stuck for ideas for people who are hard to buy for, gift cards and vouchers are a great option. But before you purchase it is a good idea to:

  • buy vouchers that can be used at more than one franchise or shop
  • check how to redeem your voucher, the expiry date, and any other terms and conditions before you use it
  • pay by credit card — if the business goes into liquidation soon after you buy the voucher, you can ask your bank or credit card company to reverse the transaction (also called a chargeback)
  • keep a record of your purchase.

More tips and to check your rights redeeming gift cards and vouchers:

Gift vouchers and pre-loaded cards

Everyone likes a bargain and it’s hard to ignore the advertising hype. Even if you’re worried that you’ll miss out, do some research and shop around to make sure that bargain is as good as it sounds.

It’s easy to be misled when you’re excited by the idea of a bargain and there are a few common ways that sellers do this. 

​​Misleading prices or advertising

If paying by credit or debt, add up all costs, eg interest and any fees, as well as the price tag. This helps you decide if it's worth buying or not.

Understand the true cost

The festive season and summer school holidays are a great time to grab some new toys to keep the tamariki entertained. But not all toys are as safe you might expect. The risk and potential for harm depends on the age of the child.

Avoid toys and household items with button batteries

Button batteries can cause serious injuries and health risks, and in some cases be fatal if swallowed. Young children (0-5 years) are particularly vulnerable to button batteries because of the small size of their oesophagus and because they naturally put small objects in their mouths, ears or noses.

Avoid purchasing toys with button batteries and keep any products containing button batteries such as remote controls, key fobs and weigh scales out of reach. 

Button batteries(external link)  — Trading Standards 

Small high-powered magnets are banned for sale

Small high-powered magnets can pose serious health risks if swallowed and have been banned for sale in New Zealand. If you do have them in your house store them out of reach from young children and make sure older children are very aware of the dangers of putting them anywhere near their mouths.

High-powered magnets(external link)  — Trading Standards

Buying safe bikes

Safe bicycles are correctly fitted to the size of your child (don’t buy them to grow into). Always check with the seller that the bike you are buying complies with the New Zealand safety standard.

Bicycles(external link)  — Trading Standards

Avoid common injuries from swings, slides and trampolines

Falls and injuries from play equipment such as swings, slides and trampolines can be avoided by keeping the ground clear around them and ensuring that they are used with adult supervision.

Jump, swing and play safely(external link)  — Trading Standards

Use water toys with caution

All water play requires adult supervision. Remember that aquatic toys and flotation devices are not safety devices and should only be used for the age, weight and use described. Toys for use in a paddling pools are unlikely to be safe for use at the beach or river.

Water toys(external link) — Trading Standards

Check cancellation terms, refund and credit policies and Covid conditions on travel (air, ferries, trains, rental cars etc) and accommodation services before you book and again before you travel. Conditions around vaccinations and cancellations are changing rapidly at the moment so it pays to check the conditions before you set off.

Know your rights if flights are cancelled, bumped or delayed: 

Flights, cancellations and delays

You can travel anywhere around New Zealand for any reason under all traffic light settings*. 

*Special restrictions to travel into and out of Auckland apply between 3 December 2021 and 17 January 2022. 

Travel at Red(external link)  — Unite against COVID-19

Check with your the airline requirements for COVID-19 vaccination and negative test results.