The Consumer Guarantees Act covers goods (new and second-hand) and services ordinarily purchased for personal, domestic or household use. Consumer rights are expressed as a series of “guarantees” a seller makes to you when you buy something ordinarily purchased for personal use. Here’s how it works and what your rights are.
Retailers guarantee their goods will:
- Be of acceptable quality (see definition below).
- Be fit for the particular purpose that you enquired about.
- Match the description given in advertisements or sales brochures, or by the sales assistant.
- Match the sample or demonstration model.
- Be owned by the consumer, once purchased.
- Be a reasonable price, if no price or pricing formula has been previously agreed.
Manufacturers guarantee that:
- Spare parts and repair facilities will be available to the consumer for a reasonable time.
- They will honour any written warranty that is provided with their products.
- Goods are of acceptable quality.
- Goods match their description.
Service providers guarantee their services will be:
- Performed with reasonable care and skill.
- Fit for the particular purpose they were supplied for.
- Completed within a reasonable time.
- A reasonable price, if no price or pricing formula has been previously agreed.
This means goods:
- Do what they are made to do.
- Are acceptable in appearance and finish.
- Are free from minor defects.
- Are safe and durable.
The Act’s terms “reasonable” and “acceptable” are deliberately open-ended. It depends on what a reasonable consumer would think was acceptable, based on the nature of the goods, the price, and any statements that have been made about the goods. A concert violin is required to meet a higher standard than a child’s cheap instrument.
Ultimately, a tribunal referee, or a judge, may have to decide what is reasonable or acceptable in the circumstances.
If a defect was pointed out to you before you bought the good, then it doesn’t count towards making it unacceptable.
Sue Chetwin CEO CONSUMER NZ
Keep informed at consumer.org.nz