What to be aware of and your rights when you buy items from mobile truck shops or buy parallel import products.

Common issues when buying from mobile traders

Mobile traders are businesses that do not have a retail shop. Some of these traders operate mobile trucks, while others use sales staff who sell products door-to-door using catalogues and brochures (uninvited direct sales) or on websites or Facebook pages.

They mainly sell consumer goods in low income areas on credit, layby or other deferred payment terms. It is often convenient and easy to buy consumer products from a mobile truck shop near your home. Credit terms are offered (without credit checks) so that you can take the products and pay off the price in low instalments.

Common issues that people find when they buy from mobile traders include:

  • higher prices for household products than in the shops and being pressured to buy quickly
  • extra charges such as default fees for missed or cancelled payments, and establishment fees
  • no or insufficient disclosure of fees, when payments start or end, outstanding balances and the total price of the product 
  • low quality items
  • continued payments by direct debit after the products are paid off
  • traders are difficult to contact as they have no fixed premises.

How to minimise your risk

Minimise your risk before you buy by:

  • find out exactly when the payments should start and stop. Check your direct debit form matches up with these dates
  • only sign one direct debit form not several
  • if you can’t afford the payments don’t buy anything from the mobile trader
  • if you aren’t sure, tell the salesperson that you need to get some advice you sign anything.

If your purchase is a consumer credit contract where you buy products on credit, you can cancel the contract within 5 days of signing up.

Parallel imports

Parallel imports are genuine products imported by a retailer in New Zealand who does not have permission from the manufacturer to sell those products within New Zealand. You can get cheaper prices or products that may not otherwise be available over here. Look out for these indicators that they are parallel imports:

  • you can’t identify any relationship between the seller and the manufacturer
  • the price is cheaper than you would normally expect to pay for that brand in New Zealand
  • the product is not available elsewhere in New Zealand
  • the product may be refurbished rather than new.

Know your rights

If you buy parallel imports or products from a mobile trader you have the same rights as if you buy from a shop under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) and the Fair Trading Act (FTA).

Buying from a mobile trader is a convenient but very expensive way to buy everyday items.

Under the CGA, you have minimum guarantees and rights to remedy problems with the products. These include if the products or services are faulty or aren't fit for purpose. 

Under the Fair Trading Act, you have protection from:

  • false or misleading representations or statements
  • unsubstantiated claims that have no basis in fact
  • unfair sales practices.

See also:

You can cancel a direct debit form at any time with your bank.

Read Banking to find out more.

Credit contracts

You also have special rights under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA) when you buy consumer products or services on credit. This includes the right to:

  • change your mind and cancel the contract within five working days
  • get full disclosure of key information before you enter into the contract, eg initial unpaid balance, total interest charges, method of charging interest, payments, your right to cancel and to apply for relief on the grounds of undue hardship.   

You can apply to have your credit contract varied or cancelled if any of these rights are breached.

Read Loans and credit to find out more.

Contact the mobile trader

Go back to the mobile trader to sort out the problem first.

See also:


Next steps

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. These may include going to the Disputes Tribunal or District Court.

Resolve it: Faulty products and services

Need more help?

Contact us for more guidance.

Common situations

Non compliant disclosure of credit information by a mobile trader

Samesi buys a new DVD player on credit from a mobile trader who is operating in his street. He fills out a direct debit and signs a credit agreement without getting any information about the interest fees, when payments will end, the total cost of the products, or his right to cancel the agreement within 5 working days. Samesi is unable to keep up with the direct debit payments and gets advice. He finds out that the credit contract is not enforceable and he can cancel the contract without having to pay interest or penalties, as he has not been given the full information required for credit contracts. He informs the trader of this, cancels the contract and returns the DVD player.

Parallel imports

Margaret buys some DVDs online within New Zealand that are much cheaper than usual. But when the DVDs 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.