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 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.