Real Life

Legal rights to recording phone calls

Can I record my phone calls without telling the other party?

We are having a house built and doing the contracting ourselves. I have been let down lately by businesses and tradesmen not sticking to specifications, quotes and completion dates. When I remind them what I asked for and what they promised, they always deny it.

I often wish my phone conversations with them had been recorded and have considered starting doing that. But what is the legal position? Am I allowed to record the conversations I have over the phone with businesses and tradesmen without telling them? I don’t want to breach privacy, just to be able to prove stuff when I need to.

Yes, in New Zealand you’re legally entitled to record the people you are speaking to on the phone without telling them. What you cannot do is record conversations that you’re not part of. In many ways, I think recording critical conversations about quotes and completion dates is a good idea.  Hopefully, you will never have to use the recordings.

But, if you’re getting the run around at a later date, it could come in very useful. It also helps you remember what you said, let alone what they said.

There’s controversy around the issue of recording your phone calls without telling the other party. In many countries, including Australia, it is illegal to record others without their consent and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the law tightened here.

All the same, I note that more and more New Zealand firms are recording phone conversations with their customers, saying it’s for “training or quality control purposes”. But that’s not their main reason. They want to keep a record of everything you have said to them, in case issues arise later. This would apply especially to insurance companies.

Do you have a consumer question for Kevin? Email [email protected], or post to Weekly Consumer, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.

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