Information impacting consumers during the current COVID-19 settings in New Zealand.

For general information on COVID-19, visit the government's COVID-19 website:

Unite against COVID-19(external link)

Vaccination requirements

All remaining vaccine mandates have now ended. Health and disability workers are the last workers with a government vaccine mandate still in place, which will end 11:59pm 26 September 2022. Some employers may choose to require their staff to be vaccinated due to their responsibilities for health and safety reasons.

It is no longer a requirement to be vaccinated to enter New Zealand. Overseas visitors will still have access to free RAT tests, with encouragement to test on day 0/1 and day 5/6. For more information on this, please visit the COVID-19 website.

Preparing to travel to New Zealand by air(external link)  – Unite against COVID-19


Buying products and shopping online

The Unite Against COVID-19 website provides information on how businesses can operate at different settings and guidelines for shopping safely.

With businesses under additional pressure due to COVID-19 you may encounter service and supply problems. Shortages of day-to-day items and delays in delivery are commonplace and we encourage patience while businesses adjust to unexpected circumstances.

Retailers may place limits on essential items to ensure they are able to supply to all their customers. If your household needs more than the stated limit, we suggest you ask to speak to the store manager and make your case. Consumers can help by only buying the quantity they need and ordering in advance where possible.

Information on your rights and how to resolve general consumer issues and problems:

Common consumer issues

Shopping online

Keep in mind while businesses may promote and accept payment of items online, their operations may be restricted due to supply chain issues.

Supplies and deliveries of some items may be delayed for some time. If an expected delivery date is not provided it makes sense to seek one before completing your order.

Information on your rights and shopping safely online: 

Online shopping

While suppliers are generally able to set their own prices, businesses must not make false or misleading statements about the reason for high prices. If you feel you’re being asked to pay too much, speak politely with the retailer. Ask the reason for the price increase.

Report a price increase(external link) — Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

If you suspect a business is providing false or misleading information as to why prices have increased, you can make a complaint to the Commerce Commission on their website. 

Make a complaint(external link)  — Commerce Commission


Travel

Overseas Travel

As our world opens up to overseas travel, there’s a few extra things to consider before you book your next trip away. Avoid costly mistakes by making sure you understand and have a plan to meet vaccination and COVID-19 testing requirements. Do this for the countries you plan to visit as well as your re-entry into New Zealand. Wherever you are, work out when and how you can get tested to meet these requirements. If you arrive for your flight without the stated vaccination or testing requirements you may be turned away - causing additional expense and ruining that much anticipated holiday. Check with your airline or travel advisor about testing requirements for the countries you plan to visit. Read the terms and conditions for all your bookings and consider travel insurance options.

Cancellations

For bookings affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, your rights to cancellation will be determined by the terms and conditions of the ticket or booking.

If you booked directly with an airline, ferry company or other travel provider, start by checking for emails about cancellations and your options. Also look on their website. Most travel businesses and accommodation providers have information about COVID-19 cancellations on their homepage.

If you phone, expect a wait before your call is answered — businesses are getting many more calls than usual. If you booked through a travel agent or booking service, contact them about cancellations and your options. Remember to be sympathetic and consider their situation as well as your own.

When consumer rights may be limited

In some situations, businesses do not have to give refunds or other remedies:

'Frustrated contract' v 'force majeure'

If you want to cancel a future domestic booking for when travel may be possible, eg outside of a restricted period, check the businesses’ cancellation terms.

General information on your consumer rights:

Flights, cancellations, and delays


Financial support

If your income has been affected by COVID-19 and you are finding it hard to pay your bills or loan payments, financial support is available.

Financial support(external link) — Unite against COVID-19


'Frustrated contract' v 'force majeure'

A force majeure provision means a business does not have to keep their side of an agreement where due to a major unexpected event, like an earthquake or pandemic, they are unable to. This means they don’t have to give refunds or other remedies - but they can still choose to.

It's important to understand how “force majeure” might impact your travel, accommodation or other long-term contracts as the pandemic continues. Always check terms and conditions to make sure you understand the risks. Remember to be sympathetic and consider their situation, as well as your own. You may wish to accept a credit for use at a later point.

In the unlikely event your contract does not allow for force majeure, it may still be considered a ‘frustrated contract’. In this situation you should have the right to a refund.

Contract and sales agreements


Price increases – PriceWatch

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is interested in hearing from consumers if you have concerns about price increases on essential goods and services during COVID-19.

Report a price increase(external link) — Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

If you suspect a business is providing false or misleading information as to why prices have increased, you can make a complaint to the Commerce Commission on their website: 

Make a complaint(external link)  — Commerce Commission

Information for businesses