Buying online - are there any guarantees?

All prices listed on this site are in New Zealand dollars (NZ$)

When you buy stuff online from a New Zealand website (like Tails) you have exactly the same rights and guarantees as you would if you bought it from any high street store. Basically that means that anything you buy should be safe, should be of acceptable quality and should do what you’d normally expect it to do.

This is all backed up by a law called the Consumer Guarantees Act. Both Retailers and Manufacturers are bound to guarantee all goods that you buy,  and while some companies offer further guarantees, here's an outline of your basic rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

Your rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act

Retailers and other suppliers must guarantee that their goods:

  • are of acceptable quality (be fit for the purpose usually supplied, acceptable in appearance and finish, free from minor defects, safe and durable);
  • are reasonably fit for any particular purpose that is made known by you;
  • correspond with any description, sample or demonstration model; and
  • will be owned by you once you purchase the goods

Manufacturers (which include importers into New Zealand) must guarantee:

  • spare parts and repair facilities for the goods are available in New Zealand (for a reasonable period of time);
  • that they will honour any written warranty that comes with the goods (e.g. some manufacturers may promise free repairs on goods for a set period of time);
  • that the goods are of acceptable quality; and
  • that goods match any description provided to you.

What if something is wrong with the goods you buy?

If the problem can be fixed, the retailer must fix the problem within a reasonable time and at no additional cost to you.  If they refuse, or can't fix the problem within a reasonable time, you can:

  • return the goods and ask for your money back,
  • ask for replacement goods (if the retailer can easily replace them); or
  • get someone else to fix the goods and claim those costs back from the retailer.

If the problem cannot be fixed or is “substantial” or serious (e.g. the goods purchased are unsafe), you can:

  • return the goods and get your money back (not a credit note);
  • ask for replacement goods (if the retailer can easily replace them); or
  • keep the goods and ask to be compensated for the reduction in value.

You can also claim for what is called “consequential loss”. This is any reasonably foreseeable extra loss or cost to you that results from the problem being fixed (ie a birdcage is faulty and you need to house your bird)  you can claim for those costs.  The retailer or service provider is allowed to minimise their risk of paying consequential losses by, for example, supplying you with a loan bird cage instead).

Can you complain to the manufacturer/importer of goods?

It is generally easier and quicker to go back to the retailer first, but you can also complain to the manufacturer or importer of the goods.  If there has been a breach of their guarantees, they must:

  • pay you compensation (for any loss in value); or
  • honour any express warranty that comes with the product, where that warranty gives you more rights than in the Consumer Guarantees Act (e.g. a “money-back guarantee”).

Any exceptions?

The only exception is if you buy something to use as a business. The Consumer Guarantees Act only covers consumers. So if you are using a product as part of your business it is covered by different rules.