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Uninvited sales, goods, and services

Unsolicited goods and services

Fair Trading Act 1986, ss 21A-21D

If someone provides you with goods or services that you didn’t order or ask for, you don’t have to pay for them. You do have to allow the sender to pick up the goods within 10 working days, but if they don’t collect them in that time, the goods are yours.

For those 10 working days, you shouldn’t throw away or deliberately damage the goods. If you do so, the sender can demand payment. However, you’re not responsible for any accidental damage.

What are “unsolicited” goods and services?

Fair Trading Act 1986, ss 21A(7), 21B(2)

”Unsolicited” means that you haven’t ordered or asked for the goods or services, and no one ordered or asked for them on your behalf. For example, an unsolicited service is if someone mows your lawn or weeds your garden without you asking them to.

Unsolicited goods and services don’t include piped (“reticulated”) gas or electricity that might already be set up in your home.

What do I do if I receive unsolicited goods?

Fair Trading Act 1986, s 21A

If you want the goods, you can choose to pay for them and keep them.

If you don’t want the goods, you don’t have to pay for them or send them back. If the seller wants them back, you need to make them available to collect for 10 working days. Don’t damage or throw the goods away until those 10 working days are over (although you’re not responsible for any accidental damage), or the sender could demand payment. If the sender doesn’t collect the goods in time, even though you’ve made them available to be picked up, then the goods belong to you as if they were a gift, and you’re free to keep them or throw them away.

Businesses who intentionally send out unsolicited goods are legally required to include information explaining your rights and obligations (as explained in this section). This information should be provided alongside the goods. If they don’t, they can be fined by the Commerce Commission.

Do I have to pay someone if they provide an unsolicited service?

Fair Trading Act 1986, s 21B

No. For example, if someone mows your lawns without asking you first, they can’t make you pay for their work.

I received unsolicited goods or services and they are demanding payment. What should I do?

Fair Trading Act 1986, s 21C

If you’ve followed your obligations explained in this section, you should ignore them. If they won’t stop demanding payment, you can report them to the Commerce Commission.

If someone in business (whether an individual trader or a company) provides you with unsolicited goods or services, it’s a criminal offence for them to claim, or appear to claim, that they have a right to be paid for them. It’s also an offence for them to send you an invoice or other document stating a price, unless this clearly states that you don’t have to pay. The Commerce Commission might investigate their behaviour and can fine them up to $200,000 for an individual trader, or up to $600,000 for a company.

Next Section | Extended warranties

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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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