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Consumer rights & money

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Quotes and estimates

What is a quote?

A quote is an offer to provide a service at a fixed price – for example, when a plumber tells you it will cost $950 to install a new water heater.

A quote can be spoken or written. Ideally it should be a clear, written statement of exactly what is to be done and material costs, what it will cost (including the hourly rate of the workers) and how long it will take.

If you accept the quote, you have made a contract and the service provider must do the work for that price. You can only be required to pay more than the quote if you have agreed to additional work after the quote was provided, or if the quote allows for a variation by a specified percentage.

A service provider can charge a fee for preparing a quote, as long as they tell you first. You don’t have to pay a deposit when you accept a quote.

Note: If the quote does not mention GST, you are entitled to assume the quote includes GST. The service provider cannot later add GST to the quote.

What is an estimate?

An estimate (can be verbal or written) is a calculation of what the service provider thinks the work is likely to cost. It indicates the nearest price, or a range of prices expected, based on past experience. It is not a firm offer to do work for the stated price, but it should provide you with a reasonable idea of what the work will cost. If you want a definite price, you should follow up by getting a quote.

Again, a service provider can charge a fee for preparing an estimate, as long as they tell you first.

Misleading quotes and estimates

An estimate or quote might give rise to a claim under the Fair Trading Act if it is false or misleading, see “Protections against misleading or unfair trading” in this chapter.

It is a good idea to shop around and ask for quotes from different businesses. This will give you a good idea of what the average price is for the service you are looking for. Asking for references from former clients or searching reviews online can also help you decide on the service provider. The Consumer Protection website provides good information on quotes and estimates, see “Where to go for more support” at the end of this page.


If you have been charged more than your quote, or the cost is much higher than the estimate, or an unreasonable amount has been charged, you can complain to:

  • the service provider
  • Disputes Tribunal
  • Commerce Commission (if there was misleading behaviour).

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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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