Information impacting consumers during the current COVID-19 traffic light settings (COVID-19 Protection Framework) in New Zealand.

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

Unite against COVID-19(external link)

My Vaccine Pass and access to goods and services

Some businesses may opt to require your My Vaccine Pass to enter their premises for the safety of their staff and others. You cannot be asked to provide your My Vaccine Pass to access basic needs services, such as supermarkets and dairies, food banks, petrol stations, pharmacies, public transport and essential health care. Children under the age of 12 years and 3 months do not need to provide a My Vaccine Pass to enter places with a vaccination requirement.

Businesses who are required or choose to require the My Vaccine Pass must sight Passes, and can also use a verifier app to scan the QR code that is embedded into a customer’s My Vaccine Pass. It lets the business know if the pass is valid or not.

Businesses must display posters or signage indicating to customers that entry is contingent on having a My Vaccine Pass. It is up to customers to present only their own My Vaccine Pass. Businesses are not required to check ID, but they may request it.

The Unite Against COVID-19 website provides detailed information about My Vaccine Pass and restrictions under the Red and Orange traffic light settings.

My Vaccine Pass(external link)  — Unite against COVID-19

Life at Orange(external link)  — Unite against COVID-19


Buying products and shopping online

Retail businesses are not required to use My Vaccine Passes, but they may opt to do so to protect their staff and others. 

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

Shopping and services at Orange(external link) — Unite against COVID-19

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.

Where consumers have an issue with a faulty, damaged or unsafe product, under the Consumer Guarantees Act businesses are still required to meet their obligations regardless of vaccination status and will need to find ways to do so. It may be reasonable for this process to take longer than usual.

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

Common consumer issues

Shopping online

Shopping online is a useful option for purchasing items while physical contact is restricted. 

However, you may encounter delays when purchasing non-essential items online at this time. Keep in mind that although businesses may promote and accept payment of non-essential items online, their operations are restricted.

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

If you are concerned about price increases on essentail goods and services during the COVID-19 pandemic you can report it to the Ministry of Business, innovation and Employment (MBIE).

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


Purchasing Rapid Antigen Tests

Consumers are now able to purchase Ministry of Health-approved Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) direct from pharmacies and other major retailers. These tests are for those who wish to ensure they are not infectious before visiting friends or whanau or attending an event. They are sourced and sold by the private market but must be approved by the Ministry of Health. 

Approved RATs and how to use them: 

Rapid antigen testing(external link)  — Ministry of Health 

Covid-19 testing is still available to members of the public through community testing , if they develop symptoms or become a household contact of a confirmed case.

How to get a COVID-19 test(external link)  — Unite Against COVID-19

We recommend consumers who are purchasing RATs take the following precautions:

  • research the price of available tests and shop around before purchasing.
  • ensure that the test is on the Ministry of Health approved list before purchasing
  • if purchasing online from overseas, check that it is a genuine site and be aware that tests not approved by the Ministry of Health may be held back at the border.
  • don’t buy tests where packaging has been tampered with or split from a bulk supply without the necessary instructions leaflet.

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.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is interested in hearing from consumers who have concerns about the price of RATs and any other essential goods and services at this time. 

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


Changes or suspension to service

Due to physical restrictions and My Vaccine Pass requirements at some traffic light settings, certain businesses such as gyms and clubs will be unable to provide service to unvaccinated members. In this case they may offer to change delivery of the service, for example, to online instead of in-person. If you do not wish to continue in the changed state, contact the business to discuss cancelling or suspension. You may be able to freeze your membership or ask for a part refund. Check your membership contract terms and refer to their website for details.

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

'Frustrated contract' v 'force majeure'


Travel and accommodation

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

Some transport providers, such as Air New Zealand and Cook Strait ferry operators, may require you to show a My Vaccine Pass or negative COVID-19 test result, taken within 72 hours before your journey, before boarding if you are aged 12 or above. 

Accommodation providers may open under all traffic light settings with no capacity limits. They can choose to follow My Vaccine Pass requirements, and can require you to show your My Vaccine Pass to be at the accommodation.  

If your travel plans are affected, get in touch with the provider to see what options are available.

Businesses need to meet their obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act, but it may be reasonable for a refund to take longer to process. 

If your travel involves bookings, follow health and safety instructions from the transport operator. Do not travel if you are required to self-isolate, quarantine or have COVID-19 symptoms.

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

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 a negative test and proof of vaccination 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. You can find up-to-date re-entry requirements on the covid19.govt website(external link) .

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

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


Events, tour and venue bookings

Although events can take place at all traffic light settings, capacity limits may apply.

Events at Orange(external link)  — Unite against COVID-19

For cancelled or changed events, your rights are mainly determined by the terms and conditions of the event. Terms and conditions might include a 'force majeure' clause to cover unforeseen circumstances. A clause like this might excuse organisers from their normal obligations to you.

What to do: 

Contact the event organiser to find out if you are entitled to a refund. Organisers will need time to figure out their process and obligations. Some businesses might offer refunds, credit, or free cancellation as a gesture of goodwill. 

It’s good to understand what you’re entitled to but remember to be patient, as event organisers adjust to this changing situation.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is a major unexpected event, businesses may not have to give refunds or other remedies. But they may choose to do so.

When consumer rights may be limited

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

‘Frustrated contract’ v ‘force majeure'


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

Loans and debt

If you have an existing loan, find out what you can do to make repaying more manageable. Contact your lender to:

  • explain your situation
  • ask about your options
  • understand the impact of any repayment changes.

For example, repayment deferral lets you delay making payments but interest will continue to be added to your loan. This means your loan will cost more and take longer to pay off in the long run. Keep repayment deferral as short as possible. Reducing loan payments or choosing to pay interest only may be better than putting them on hold.

It may take a while for you to get through to the lender, as banks and finance companies may be busier than usual. Banks and major lenders have information about COVID-19 on their websites.

Emergency no-interest loans

Good Shepherd New Zealand provides loans for people financially impacted by COVID-19 who need urgent help to:

  • pay bills, eg electricity
  • pay existing loan repayments
  • buy essential products or services — examples include to replace a broken fridge or pay for urgent home repairs.

These loans are only available to people with a Community Services Card, and who meet some other eligibility criteria. These loans can also be made available to people on work visas.

Good loans(external link) — Good Shepherd New Zealand 

Need help?
Try the MoneyTalks helpline. A free financial mentor can help with budgeting advice. They can also talk to your lender, eg about changing repayments.

Phone 0800 345 123 or use live chat, email or text.

MoneyTalks(external link)


'Frustrated contract' v 'force majeure'

During this time many businesses are offering refunds or other remedies, like free cancellation or credit for future use. However in some cases they may not have to.

Check your contract terms and conditions. Look for a section on 'force majeure' - if it’s in your contract, your consumer rights may be limited. A force majeure provision means that due to a major unexpected event, like an earthquake or pandemic, a business does not have to keep their side of the agreement. This means they don’t have to give refunds or other remedies - but they can still choose to. 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

It is not illegal for businesses to increase their prices, however, the Fair Trading Act prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct and false representations. This means that if a business gives a reason for a price increase it must be true, otherwise the business risks breaching the law.

While businesses are free to set their own prices, there has been some public concern about price increases on essential goods and services during the different alert levels linked to COVID-19.

If you feel you’re being asked to pay too much for goods or services:

  • Speak politely with the retailer. Ask the reason for the price increase. Check it isn’t a mistake.
  • Remember that fresh produce prices may be affected by crop availability and season, or that there may be high demand for certain products.
  • There may also be additional costs associated with providing goods and services during the response to COVID-19, such as costs for decontamination or the use of special PPE (personal protective equipment). 
  • Businesses themselves may be experiencing price increases or delays in their supply chains. 

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 the different alert levels.

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