Easy things you can do to protect yourself before, during and after you purchase a product or service

Buying smart means buying the best product or service for your needs — and doing what you can to protect yourself from any problems.

By considering these tips, you’re likely to feel more confident about making smart purchasing decisions and handling any issues if they come along.

What to do before you buy a product or service

Doing your research before you pull out your wallet will help set you up for good purchases.

  • Understand what you need the product or service to do.
  • Do your research. Read product and service reviews. Find out which option might best suit your needs.
  • Shop around and compare prices.
  • Find a reputable retailer or service provider. This could mean:
    • reading reviews
    • looking for signs of a seller’s good reputation, eg authenticated sellers on Trademe or licensed tradespersons
    • buying from registered businesses based in New Zealand — businesses outside of New Zealand do not have to comply with our consumer laws
    • weighing up the risks of buying from a private seller — you’ll have fewer protections under consumer law if there’s a fault or issue later on.
  • Write down any questions you have about the product or service to ask later.

You can download this checklist as a PDF [PDF, 333 KB] and keep a printed copy with you when you start shopping.

What to do during purchase

When you hit the shops or negotiate a contract, be prepared with a clear idea of what you want to go home with.

  • Talk to the retailer or service provider about what you need the product or service for. Be as specific as possible. This will help them advise you on whether the product or service will meet your needs.
  • Inspect the product as thoroughly as possible. Check for any signs of damage. Ask the seller if there’s anything you should be aware of about a product’s condition or the way a service is provided.
  • Ask questions. Be sure the seller addresses all your questions or concerns. If you have any doubts, you have a right to walk away. No one can force you to buy anything.
  • Read the sales contract and terms and conditions. Pay particular attention to privacy policies for online sales.
  • Make sure the price tag matches the price at the till — or the agreed price is written down. If you’re buying online, make sure the payment method is secure. Read more tips on shopping online .
  • For services, agree and write down how long a service should take, and when it should be completed by.
  • Ask about any return or cancellation policies — or what happens if something goes wrong and it’s not your fault. Some retailers and service providers have their own policies that offer options over and above the law.
  • Make sure you get copies of important documents such as:
    • receipts
    • contracts
    • warranty information
    • instruction manuals.
  • If you buy from a private seller, consider drawing up your own sales agreement.

You can download this checklist as a PDF [PDF, 333 KB] and keep a printed copy with you when you start shopping.


What to do after you buy a product or service

It’s important to keep a record of details and documents, particularly for more expensive products and services. It’s your right to go back to the seller or service provider if there’s a problem with something you buy. You may be entitled to a repair, replacement or refund. Having receipts and purchasing information on hand will make this process easier.

  • Keep important paperwork like:
    • your proof of purchase, eg receipts, sales contracts, email confirmations or a statement of your bank or credit card transactions
    • signed contracts and terms and conditions
    • warranties
    • any original advertisementsinstruction manuals.
  • Write down and keep important purchase information like:
    • when you bought it or signed a contract
    • retailer, manufacturer or service provider details
    • how much you paid, or agreed to pay
    • what method you used to pay, ie if you paid cash or which bank account or credit card you paid with
    • any scheduled payments.

You can download a template [PDF, 325 KB] to keep track of your most important purchases.


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