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Consumer rights & money

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Automatic guarantees when buying from a business


The Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 gives you some automatic guarantees whenever you buy goods or services from a business for personal or household purposes.

Who is a consumer?

You are a “consumer”, so you are protected by the Consumer Guarantees Act when you buy goods or services from a business and you’re using them for personal or household purposes. (You are not protected by this Act if what you are buying is not the sort of thing that is ordinarily used for personal or household purposes – for example, a photocopier.)

If you receive goods as a gift from the person who bought them, you have the same rights against the seller and the manufacturer as if you bought the goods yourself.

Can a seller contract out of the Consumer Guarantees Act?

Consumer Guarantees Act 1993, s 43

No. “Contracting out” is the legal term for deciding not to be covered by a particular law. A seller can’t do this, so they must be covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act if you’re buying goods or services for personal or household purposes.

Sellers can only contract out of the Act if:

  • both buyer and seller are traders who are making the transaction for business purposes, and
  • the agreement to exclude the Act is in writing, and
  • it’s fair and reasonable that buyer and seller should be bound by it. What is fair and reasonable will depend on the particular context, including the value of the goods or services, any difference in bargaining power, and whether either or both sides had a lawyer.

In general, traders who try to contract out of the Act (for example, by displaying signs such as “No refunds”) are committing an offence under the Fair Trading Act 1986 by misleading consumers about their rights. Such traders can be fined, see “Protections against misleading or unfair trading” in this chapter.

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Consumer protection

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Consumer Protection


Consumer Protection helpline: 0508 426 678 (0508 4 CONSUMER)

Email: cpinfo@mbie.govt.nz

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).



Phone: 0800 345 123

FinCap can help you with budgeting information online or on the phone. They may also suggest a local budgeting service to help you with debt and other budgeting issues.

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. You can also order “Do Not Knock” stickers to deter uninvited door to door knockers on their website.

Citizens Advice Bureau


Phone: 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222)

Citizens Advice Bureaux have volunteers trained in consumer law who can provide you with information and advice about consumer problems.

Commerce Commission


Phone: 0800 943 600

Email: contact@comcom.govt.nz

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.

Consumer rights in another language


This site by the Commerce Commission has information about typical situations consumers find themselves in, in five different languages.

Product Recalls


This site lets you know which products have been “recalled” due to safety issues or product defects. You can generally return a recalled product to the place where you bought it to be repaired or replaced.

Motor Vehicle Traders Register


Phone: 0508 MOTOR TRADERS (0508 668 678)

Check to see if a motor vehicle trader is registered.

Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal


Phone: 0800 268 787

The Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal deals with disputes of amounts up to $100,000. It can be more if both parties agree in writing.

Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR)


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

Proceedings in the District Courts

The Ministry of Justice website has information about making or responding to a claim in the District Courts. See: www.justice.govt.nz and search “claims to civil court”.

Buying a car privately

YouthLaw has produced a video on buying a car privately.
See: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK8irFAn1as

New Zealand Police


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

Dispute resolution schemes

There are four dispute resolution schemes for consumers dealing with lenders and other credit providers.

Financial Services Complaints Limited – www.fscl.org.nz

Phone: 0800 347 257

Email: info@fscl.org.nz

Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman
Phone: 0800 888 202

Email: info@ifso.nz

Banking Ombudsman – www.bankomb.org.nz
0800 805 950

Email: help@bankomb.org.nz

Financial Dispute Resolution – www.fdrs.org.nz
0508 337 337

Email: enquiries@fdrs.org.nz

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