Once you know it’s a valid complaint
If it’s a minor problem, eg a poorly made coffee or pen that doesn’t work, you must put it right as soon as possible. This means offering a remedy, which is either a:
It’s up to you which to offer.
When something is seriously wrong with a product or service, you must put it right in the way the customer chooses — after fully investigating, of course. Typically, this means a replacement or full refund. You must also cover any extra costs caused by the problem.
Fair returns policies
The best way to resolve problems quickly and fairly is to give customers clear information about your returns policy, and have an effective complaints process.
Use these templates so you, your staff and customers know how complaints will be handled:
Refund policy sign [PDF, 795 KB]
Complaint record form [PDF, 810 KB]
Complaints process checklist [PDF, 3.2 MB]
It’s up to you whether you offer the legal minimum, or more than the legal minimum. It can help foster goodwill if you are prepared to be a little more generous.
Fair returns and complaints policies(external link) — business.govt.nz
How to handle common complaints
Customer changes their mind
Remedy required? No
You do not have to give a refund or other remedy, but you may choose to if you offer more than the legal minimum for customer returns.
If you display a sign that says, "no returns if a customer changes their mind", they know they can’t bring back a dress that turns out to be unflattering. If they try to return it anyway, it’s your right to refuse.
Customer not given important information
Remedy required? Yes, for valid complaints
What "important information" means varies, depending on the product or service. But it can include:
- any extra costs, eg delivery charges
- special care or maintenance instructions
- start and end dates for services
- cancellation period for door-to-door or telemarketing sales
- how to make a complaint if something goes wrong.
Make sure you and any staff are familiar with what you sell, and can talk about it without over- or underselling.
Also give customers clear information about their rights and responsibilities under consumer laws — and yours as the seller. This might be a refunds sign next to your till, a plain English contract or an easy-to-navigate website.
What you need to tell customers(external external link) (external external link) — business.govt.nz
Customer goes against your advice
Remedy required? No
All services must be carried out with reasonable care and skill. But if a customer wants you to do the work in another way, eg use a cheaper type of paint, clearly explain how the results may differ.
You don’t have to put this in writing. If someone else, eg a trusted worker or supervisor, is part of the conversation, that’s enough. But it’s a good idea to note details in an email or on the quote for the job, eg “we recommend ____ but you have chosen ____”.
If the customer goes ahead with their choice, it means they accept the risks.
Case study: Customer goes against your advice(external external link) (external external link) — business.govt.nz