Your rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act when you have a problem with a product or service you've paid for.

Consumer guarantees and your rights

The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) protects consumers by, among other things:

  • allowing them to seek repairs, replacements or refunds when goods are faulty
  • setting minimum guarantees that apply to all products and services..

Everyone from your garden store owner to your electrician has to meet their responsibilities under the CGA. This means that if you’ve a problem with a product or service, you can do something about it.

Visual Guide: Your consumer rights in action

Visual guide: Your consumer rights in action - mobile launcher

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Understanding your consumer rights

When you buy something or pay for a service, there are laws to protect your rights as a consumer.

This means there are certain things you can expect. The Consumer Guarantees Act protects your rights when you buy something from a business in trade, like a shop, or hire someone to carry out a service, like building or catering.

You have many consumer rights, but some are particularly good to be aware of. When you pay for products and services, you can expect them to be safe, of acceptable quality, and free of defects. You can also expect them to be fit for purpose. This means what you paid for needs to do what it’s designed to do — so a kettle should boil water, and a roof should keep the rain out.

If you pay for something that doesn’t work, breaks too easily, or doesn’t do what it is expected to do, you’re entitled to a repair, exchange or sometimes a refund, from the seller or service provider.

The Consumer Guarantees Act only protects you when you buy from businesses in trade in New Zealand — not when you buy something from a private seller or from overseas.

If there’s a problem with something you buy, or a service you pay for, remember there are laws to look after your consumer rights.

Kia mārama ki ō tika kiritaki - video and transcript in Māori

Malamalama i au aiātatau o se tagata faatau - video and transcript in Samoan

Mahino‘i ‘o ho‘o ngaahi totonu fakataú - video and transcript in Tongan

Who is a consumer?

A consumer is anyone who buys products or services that are ordinarily for personal or household use. Organisations and businesses who buy consumer products or services from other businesses are also entitled to protection under the Act, unless the seller has contracted out of the CGA.

What businesses does the CGA apply to?

The CGA applies to anyone in trade such as:

  • retailers
  • manufacturers
  • importers
  • professionals
  • online traders
  • finance companies
  • tradespeople.

NOTE: Since June 2014 all online sellers who operate as traders must make it clear to potential buyers that they are traders. This includes when they sell through an intermediary website like Trade Me. 

If you think one of your guarantees has not been met, contact the retailer or service provider about the problem as soon as possible. 

Consumer guarantees for products

The CGA gives you rights if the products you buy or are supplied by a business are faulty and do not meet the guarantees below under the CGA.

All consumer products must:

  • be of acceptable quality (durable, safe, fit for purpose, free from defects, acceptable in look or finish)
  • be fit for any particular purpose you have told the supplier
  • match a description, sample or model shown to you
  • have good legal title, eg be able to be sold and not have any security interests registered against them
  • be a reasonable price if no price is set
  • arrive on time (within a reasonable time if not agreed) and in good condition
  • have spare parts and repair facilities available (manufacturer is responsible). This does not apply if you are told about limited availability before you buy.

Read more about Consumer Guarantees for products

Consumer guarantees for services

The CGA gives you rights if the services you purchase or are supplied by a business do not meet the guarantees below under the CGA.

All consumer services must be:

  • carried out with reasonable care and skill
  • fit for any particular purpose that you’ve told the service provider about
  • carried out within a reasonable time if you haven’t agreed the time for completing the work
  • charged for at a reasonable price if you haven’t agreed a price for the work.

Read more about Consumer Guarantees for services

Consumer guarantees for gas and electricity services

Under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), consumers have a guarantee of acceptable quality for the supply of electricity and reticulated gas only (piped gas supplied by a retailer). This guarantee applies instead of the general CGA guarantees that apply to products and services.

Read more about Consumer Guarantees for gas and electricity services

When the CGA doesn't apply

Consumer guarantees do not apply if you:

  • are buying products or services privately
  • are buying commercial products or services eg industrial machinery and trucks
  • are buying products for resale, resupply or use in a manufacturing process (business purpose) 
  • both parties are in business and have a written agreement to contract out of the CGA specifically 
  • got what you asked for but simply changed your mind
  • misused or altered a product in any way that caused the problem, eg not following manufacturer’s instructions for use
  • if you disposed of, lost, destroyed or damaged products after delivery
  • knew of or were made aware of paticular faults before you bought the product
  • relied on anyone else's advice or conduct that caused the problem other than the service provider or their agent  

Contracting out of the CGA

A retailer or supplier can’t state the CGA does not apply (contracting out of their obligations). The only exception to this is where products or services are acquired for a business purpose and:

  • you as the buyer and the seller are in trade and agree to this
  • the agreement is in writing 
  • it is fair and reasonable to do so.

A manufacturer can, however, contract out of the spare parts and repair facilities guarantee as long as consumers are told this in writing before they buy the products.

A business who tries to contract out of the Act in any other circumstances commits an offence under the Fair Trading Act

Read more about your consumer rights(external link) on the Commerce Commission's website.

Understanding business rights

Businesses have obligations to their customers, but they also have rights.

Remember, the majority of businesses don’t intentionally set out to give you a bad deal. Most retailers and service providers want to make smart decisions to protect their business — this usually means providing good service and doing their best to fix any problems if they occur.

If you think one of your guarantees wasn’t met, talk to the seller or service provider about the problem first. They will most likely be eager to offer you a solution.

Read more about approaching a retailer or service provider about General problems

Resolving problems

If you are unable to resolve your issue directly with the retailer, manufacturer or service provider, our Resolve It tool has information to help you take the next steps.

Resolve it: Faulty products and services

Need more guidance?

Contact our Consumer Protection helpline