How to approach a supplier about a problem
If you have problems with commercial products or services, you may have rights to:
- cancel the sale and get a refund
- get repairs done
- ask for compensation under the Contract and Commercial Law Act, if the seller has not contracted out of it.
Step 1. Check your contract or sales agreement
Look for any terms that have been broken, and what you may be able to claim. Examples include:
- Price — were you overcharged?
- Timeframes — did it take longer than agreed?
- Is the work complete or are there still tasks left undone?
- If the supplier promises to repair faults, have they done this?
If the breach is serious, you may be able to cancel the contract and claim your money back.
If you want to cancel a contract, think about getting legal advice first. It can be quite complicated — and expensive if you get it wrong.
Step 2: Contact your supplier
Once you are sure it’s a problem you can rightfully claim for, talk to the supplier about what’s gone wrong. Bring paperwork from the sale, proof of the problem and any other information that might help. Be polite but firm.
If the problem is due to accidental damage, or you tried to repair a fault before approaching the supplier, they do not have to put it right.
Step 3: If you need to take it further
Disputes tribunal or district court
If you can’t reach an agreement with the supplier, you may be able to make a claim to the Disputes Tribunal or District Court for:
- breach of warranties under the Contract and Commercial Law Act if it’s a faulty product
- breach of contract for commercial services.
If the ruling goes your way, you’ll be able to get your money back. You can also ask the Tribunal or Court to order the supplier to complete their contract obligations.
The Disputes Tribunal is for claims up to $15,000 or up to $20,000 if both parties agree. The District Court is for claims above $15,000 but less than $350,000.
This is a complicated area. Get legal advice to make a claim.
Read more about Going to the Disputes Tribunal
Read more about Consumer problems caused by suppliers
If the problem is due to the supplier’s false or misleading statements, you can make a formal complaint to Commerce Commission. It’s responsible for enforcing the Fair Trading Act and making sure sellers stick within these rules.
The Commission does not investigate every complaint. And the action it takes against sellers who breaks the rules often doesn’t result in financial compensation for buyers. But you can take a claim to court yourself.
Reporting a business or person(external link) — Commerce Commission
If you want your money back, it’s best to take action against the supplier yourself.
Need more help?
Contact our Consumer helpline.