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Uninvited sales, goods, and services

Door-to-door sales and other uninvited direct sales

An “uninvited direct sale” is when a sales person comes uninvited to your house, workplace or over the phone to offer you goods or services. For example, a sales person coming to your door and convincing you to sign up to a new power or internet provider is classed as an “uninvited direct sale,” if the contract is for $100 or more.

If a sales person comes to your house uninvited, you can tell them to leave. It is an offence if they don’t comply. They must also oblige with any signs you put up, like “Do Not Knock” stickers which are issued by Consumer NZ.

If you’ve agreed to buy something from an uninvited direct sale, you have 5 days to cancel it and get your money back.

What is an “uninvited direct sale”?

Fair Trading Act 1986, s 36K

The protections against uninvited direct sales apply when you buy goods or services, and:

  • the seller has come uninvited to your home or workplace, or has phoned you uninvited, and
  • the price that you’ve paid or will pay under the agreement is more than $100, or the price isn’t known at the time that you receive the goods or services.

It will still be an “uninvited” direct sale even if:

  • you gave your name or contact details to the seller for some other reason, and later they came to your home or workplace or phoned you to try to sell you goods or services
  • the sale happens when you ring them back after they tried unsuccessfully to contact you (for example, if they had left a voice message)
  • you had earlier bought something from the seller after inviting them to phone you or to come to your home or workplace that previous time.

Information that a seller has to give you

Fair Trading Act 1986, s 36L

A door-to-door seller or an uninvited seller has a legal obligation to give you certain information. If they don’t, the Commerce Commission can fine them up to $2,000. The seller must make sure:

  • The agreement is in writing.
    • The wording should be clear, easy to read, and in plain language.
  • You get a copy of the agreement.
    • If the sale is in person, you should be given a copy of the agreement straight away.
    • If the sale was over the phone, you should be sent a copy within the next five working days.
  • The agreement clearly states how much you have to pay.
    • If it’s not known, it should say how the price will be calculated.
    • It should include the total price you’ll have to pay, including any extra payments such as interest.
  • The agreement is dated.
  • On the front page, the agreement includes:
    • a clear description of what you’re buying
    • a summary of your right to cancel the agreement (see below)
    • the seller’s name, street address, phone number and email address
    • your name and street address.

Additionally, before you agree to anything, the seller must also tell you verbally about your right to cancel the agreement, and how to do so.

Can I cancel an uninvited direct sale?

Fair Trading Act 1986, s 36M

If the seller complies with their obligations (you’ve been given a copy of an uninvited direct sale agreement and you were given all the required information) you can cancel the agreement but you have a time limit of five working days after you received the copy. If you don’t cancel in time, the seller can enforce the agreement and claim any unpaid amounts.

If you weren’t given a copy, or the seller doesn’t comply with their obligations (see above), there is no time limit and you can cancel at any time. However, this only applies if their failure to comply was significant and caused you a disadvantage – if it was a minor failure, the five working days time limit still applies.

To cancel, contact the seller (using the contact details given on your agreement) and let them know that you want to cancel the agreement. There’s no particular process or words you have to use.

What happens if I cancel an uninvited direct sale?

Fair Trading Act 1986, ss 36O-36R

If you cancel an uninvited direct sale agreement within the five working day time limit (note that if the seller did not comply with their obligations, this time limit doesn’t apply and you can cancel at any time), the agreement is treated as if it had never been made. This means the seller must immediately repay you all the money you’ve paid.

If you bought goods, the seller will have 10 working days from when you cancel to come collect the goods from your address. You need to give them a reasonable opportunity to do so, and you need to take reasonable care of the goods for those 10 working days. If you don’t allow the seller reasonable opportunity to collect them, you have to continue to take reasonable care of the goods until you have. Until then, if you intentionally throw away or damage the goods, you’ll have to pay the seller compensation (but you’re not responsible for accidental damage).

If you bought services, the seller isn’t entitled to be paid even if the services have already been provided. If your property was changed or damaged by these services, you can require the seller to return it to the condition it was before, at their own expense.

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Consumer protection

Where to go for more support

Legal information and support groups

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Consumer Protection

The Consumer Protection website has useful information on a range of consumer topics. Consumer Protection is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE).

Website: www.consumerprotection.govt.nz
Email: cpinfo@mbie.govt.nz
Phone: 0508 426 678 (0508 4 CONSUMER)

Consumer NZ

The Consumer NZ website provides a wide range of information on consumer issues and template letters you can use to write to traders to enforce your rights.

Website: www.consumer.org.nz
Email: info@consumer.org.nz
Phone: 0800 226 786 (0800 CONSUMER)

Commerce Commission

The Commerce Commission enforces the laws against misleading and deceptive conduct by traders (the Fair Trading Act) and the consumer credit legislation (the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act). The Commission provides information on these areas on its website.

Website: www.comcom.govt.nz
Email: contact@comcom.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 688 5463

To make a complaint online: comcom.govt.nz/make-a-complaint
To read consumer rights in different languages: comcom.govt.nz/consumers/read-about-your-consumer-rights-and-business-responsibilities-in-another-language

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice.  See CAB’s website for valuable information on a range of topics.

Website: www.cab.org.nz
Phone: 0800 367 222
Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/citizensadvicenz

Find your local CAB office: www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab

Product safety

This agency oversees the safety of consumer products that are not food, medicines or road vehicles. Their website has information for consumers about safety standards, product recalls and using products safely.

Website: www.productsafety.govt.nz
Email: cpinfo@mbie.govt.nz
Phone: 0508 627 774

Products recalled: www.productsafety.govt.nz/recalls

FinCap and Money Talks

FinCap is a non-government organisation providing free financial mentoring services.

Website: www.fincap.org.nz
Email: kiaora@fincap.org.nz
Phone: 04 471 1420

MoneyTalks is a financial capability helpline operated by FinCap. The Financial Mentors offer free, confidential advice by phone, text, email and live chat.

Email: help@moneytalks.co.nz
Phone: 0800 345 123
Text: 4029
Live chat: www.moneytalks.co.nz

Motor Vehicle Traders Register

Before purchasing off a motor vehicle trader, check if they are registered.

Website: www.motortraders.med.govt.nz
Phone: 0508 MOTOR TRADERS (0508 668 678)

Buying a car privately

Search the PPSR register to see if there is any security interest registered against a vehicle. This can be done for a small fee by registering to check online

Website: www.ppsr.companiesoffice.govt.nz

Check to make sure a car that you’re considering buying hasn’t been listed with the police as stolen.

Website: www.police.govt.nz/stolenwanted/stolen-vehicles

Other tips for buying a car privately from YouthLaw: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK8irFAn1as


Disputes Tribunal

The Disputes Tribunal can deal with claims up to the value of $30,000.  It is less formal than a court and cheaper.

Website: www.disputestribunal.govt.nz/about-2
Phone: 0800 COURTS

Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal

The Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal can deal with claims up to the value of $100,000.  It can only deal with disputes relating to registered traders (or those that should be registered).

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/motor-vehicle-dealer-disputes
Phone: 0800 268 787

Dispute Resolution Schemes

There are four dispute resolution schemes for consumers dealing with lenders and other credit providers. Contact the scheme your service provider has registered with.

  1. Financial Services Complaints

Website: fscl.org.nz
Phone: 0800 347 257
Participants list: fscl.org.nz/search-financial-service-providers 

  1. Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman

Website: www.ifso.nz
Phone: 0800 888 202
Participants list: www.ifso.nz/complaints#find-a-participant

  1. Banking Ombudsman

Website: www.bankomb.org.nz
Phone: 0800 805 950
Participants list: bankomb.org.nz/the-complaint-process/bank-participant

  1. Financial Dispute Resolution Service

Website: www.fdrs.org.nz
Phone: 0508 337 337
Participants list: fdrs.org.nz/become-a-scheme-member/scheme-member-search

Utilities Disputes Commissioner

The Commissions helps with complaints about electricity, gas, water and some fibre services.

Website: www.udl.co.nz
Phone: 0800 22 33 40

Participants list: www.udl.co.nz/making-a-complaint/complaint-form

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