Special rules apply to uninvited direct sales, eg door-to-door, mail order and infomercials sales.
Before you buy
When businesses approach you, or give you products and services you didn’t ask for, it's an uninvited direct sale. It's important to:
- Not be pressured into buying something you don't really want.
- Record the date and time of your purchase and keep any confirmation of your order.
- Pay by credit card if you do agree to buy. This means you can apply to your bank for a chargeback if there are any problems. A chargeback reverses the transaction.
- Make sure the terms and conditions are clear, including price, delivery costs, delivery date, returns and warranties.
It's not an uninvited sale if you renew your existing service with the same supplier on the same, or similar, terms.
The Fair Trading Act has special rules for uninvited direct sales.
An uninvited direct sale is when:
- a trader sells you products or services over $100 for personal, domestic or household use
- the sale is negotiated at your home or workplace, or by phone
- you didn’t invite the trader to visit or call for that reason.
It's also an uninvited direct sale if:
- you had given your name or contact details to the seller for some other reason, eg competition or a survey, and later they came to your home or workplace, or phoned you without your permission to try to sell you something else
- they rang you without permission and you later returned the call and bought something
- the seller comes to your door or phones you without an invite, even if you had previously invited them to phone you or come to your home or workplace for a different sale.
You have the right to direct salespeople to leave or not enter your property if they are uninvited. This includes mobile traders ('truck shops') and anyone selling products or services door-to-door but excludes people visiting for other purposes (like requests for charitable donations) or to offers of goods and services under $100.
These directions may be given to a specific person (e.g. by contacting a business, or telling a salesperson to leave), or to salespeople generally through signage on your property.
- For example, you may use a sign saying “Salespersons Do Not Knock” on a gate or front door provided it is clearly visible.
- A direction to a specific person lasts for two years, before that person can enter your property to negotiate an uninvited direct sale.
When you buy something in an uninvited direct sale, the seller must give you a copy of the sales agreement, containing a clear description of what you're buying, a summary of your right to cancel, the seller's details and your details.
If the business doesn't follow these rules, you can complain to the Commerce Commission. This government organisation doesn't act on behalf of individuals and can't investigate every complaint. But their investigations do help make sure businesses are complying with the law.
Make a complaint(external link) — Commerce Commission
You can change your mind and cancel for any reason within five working days of receiving the written agreement. You're entitled to a full refund.
Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, you have rights if:
- the products or services are faulty or don’t match their description
- your products are delivered late
- your products are lost or damaged in transit
- delivery or freight costs are more expensive than stated.
If you want to cancel the agreement later, you:
- can give notice to the seller within five working days after being given the contract, or cancel any time if the seller doesn’t meet key requirements in the agreement
- are entitled to your money back
- must let the seller take unwanted products from your address at any reasonable time they request
- must take reasonable care of unwanted products for 10 working days after you give notice that you want to cancel — otherwise you may have to pay compensation for any loss or damage to the products.
If the seller provided a service without first getting your agreement, you cancel and you don't have to pay for it. If your property has been changed or damaged, you can require the seller to return it to its original condition.
There's an exception for electricity and for gas piped into your house (not supplied in cylinders). So if you move into a new rental house and the power is connected, you are not entitled to free electricity. The electricity company has the right to charge you for any power you use.
If you agree to a sales contract over the phone, traders must give you a written copy of the sales agreement within five working days from the day after the agreement is made.
The contract must be clear and easy to understand and show:
- the products or services
- both parties’ names and contact details
- your right to cancel
- total price, or how it will be calculated.
If the trader does not meet these requirements, the contract can’t be enforced and the trader will have committed an offence.
If you want to keep them, you are protected by the Consumer Guarantees Act if they are faulty.
If you don't want the items, the supplier has 10 working days to collect them. You must:
- make them reasonably available in an obvious place, eg under cover on your doorstep
- look after the items, otherwise you may have to pay if they are lost or damaged.
It's illegal for a supplier to:
- invoice you if you haven't agreed to receive the product or service, unless they make it clear you do not have to pay
- say you have to pay for the goods or services because you did not reject them — if you didn't agree to receiving the items, you don't have to pay even if you don't contact the trader to tell them you don't want them.
If they don’t collect the items, you can keep them for free after the 10 days have passed. If the supplier is in trade, you can also keep the products if you were not told about your rights at the time of delivery.
You can’t keep the products for free if you know they were not intended for you, eg addressed to someone else, or you were unreasonable about collection.
If the supplier performed a service for you without your prior agreement, you can cancel after the work has been done and you don’t have to pay. If your property has been changed or damaged, they must return it to the condition it was in before for free.
Door-to-door and telemarketing sales(external link) — Commerce Commission
If marketing calls are becoming a nuisance, you can put your name on the Do not call register. The service is run by the New Zealand Marketing Association and is free to consumers. It may not stop calls all together, but will help reduce the number of unwanted marketing calls. Expect an improvement a month after you register.
Do not call register(external link) — Marketing Association
Example — Added extras
While a company is at Greg’s home installing a security system, they also sell his elderly mother a personal alarm. The sale of the personal alarm is an uninvited direct sale, so Greg can cancel within five working days and receive a full refund.
Example — Cancelling a door-to-door sale
Aroha agreed to change electricity provider after a door to door sales person knocked on her door and made her an offer. After four days, Jenny decided the offer wasn't right for her after all, so she contacted the business and told them she wanted to cancel the agreement. The business cancelled the agreement at no cost to Jenny, and she stayed with her original electricity provider.