Parallel imports are genuine products, but the seller isn't an authorised dealer of that brand.
Parallel importers do not have permission from the manufacturer to sell their products in New Zealand.
These can be signs that products are parallel imports:
- The price is a little cheaper than you normally expect to pay for that brand in New Zealand.
- The product is not available elsewhere in New Zealand.
- You can’t identify any relationship between the seller and the manufacturer.
Before you buy
These are things to watch out for when thinking about buying parallel imports.
Limited after-sales support
Anything you buy from a retailer in New Zealand is covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), but manufacturer's or extended warranties may not apply to parallel imports, and support like call centres may not be available.
If the goods are faulty, or don't meet the acceptable quality standard, speak to the supplier for a remedy.
Watch out for goods designed for use in overseas markets, such as:
- products with manuals that are not in English
- chargers that only fit overseas power points
- smartphones locked to overseas networks.
Sometimes parallel imported products are refurbished rather than new. This means the product (usually electronics like smartphones or games consoles) has previously been returned to the manufacturer because of a fault. The products have been fixed before you buy them, but they might be more likely to suffer from further faults.
Your rights when you buy parallel imports
You have the same rights when you buy parallel imported products as you do when you buy anything else.
The Consumer Guarantees Act covers you if products don’t do what they are meant to. This means products should:
- be acceptable quality
- be satisfactory in look and finish
- be free from small faults
- last for a reasonable time
- be safe to use
- do everything they are commonly used for.
Under the Fair Trading Act, it is illegal for a business to mislead or deceive you about the things they sell. This includes:
- writing or saying anything false or misleading about products or services, including in advertising
- making claims about products without evidence to back them up
- unfair sales practices.
An example of unfair sales tactics is bait advertising. It means a business lures you in with cheap items that are unavailable and then offers a more expensive item instead.
If things go wrong
Speak to the retailer or importer as soon as you discover a problem. Explain what the problem is and how you would like it to be resolved — if you want a refund, replacement or repair. Take your proof of purchase with you.
If you can't agree on a solution, going to the Disputes Tribunal may be your next step. Bear in mind, if the seller is overseas it may be harder to enforce any formal decision.
About the tribunal(external link) — Disputes Tribunal
Example — Faulty DVDs
Margaret buys DVDs online within New Zealand that are much cheaper than usual. But when the discs arrive, they do not work in her DVD player. Margaret complains to the trader but does not get a response. She will have to bring a claim in the Disputes Tribunal if she wants to get her money back.