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When sellers approach you uninvited

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, they’ll want you to pay for them, but it’s up to you whether or not you do. If you were sent unsolicited goods, you have to allow the sender to collect them within 10 working days. If they don’t collect them in that time, the goods are yours.

What are “unsolicited” goods and services?

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

Unsolicited goods are goods you receive when you haven’t ordered or asked for them and no-one has ordered or asked for them on your behalf – for example, when you’re sent books in the mail.

Unsolicited services are services that someone provides to you when you haven’t asked for them and no-one has asked for them on your behalf – for example if someone mows your lawn or weeds your garden without you asking them to.

Unsolicited goods and services don’t include reticulated (piped) gas or electricity.

What are my rights and obligations if I receive unsolicited goods?

Fair Trading Act 1986, s 21A; Fair Trading Act 1986, s 21A

If you’re sent unsolicited goods, you don’t have to pay for them and you’re not responsible if they’re lost, destroyed or damaged (unless you threw them away or destroyed or damaged them deliberately).

If you want the goods, you can pay for them and keep them. If you don’t want them, you don’t have to send them back; if the seller wants the goods back, the seller should collect them. You must make the goods available for the sender to collect at any reasonable time during the 10 working days after you received the goods.

If the sender is a business (whether an individual trader or a company), they’re legally required to include information with the goods explaining your rights and obligations in relation to unsolicited goods. If they don’t do this, the Commerce Commission can issue them with an infringement notice requiring them to pay an infringement fee (a fine), as an alternative to bringing criminal charges.

If the sender doesn’t collect the goods within 10 working days 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.

The same applies if the sender is a business and they didn’t include the required information about your rights and obligations when they sent you the goods. However, the goods won’t belong to you if you failed, without any reasonable excuse, to let the sender collect the goods within the 10 working days, or if you knew or should reasonably have known that the goods weren’t intended for you or that the sender didn’t have the right to send or deliver them to you.

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

What are my rights and obligations if someone provides unsolicited services?

Fair Trading Act 1986, s 21B

If someone provides you with unsolicited services, you don’t have to pay for them. For example, if someone mows your lawns without asking you first, they can’t make you pay. You’re also not responsible for any loss or damage that the services caused to someone else’s property, unless this resulted from something you did deliberately.

Can someone demand payment for unsolicited goods or services?

Fair Trading Act 1986, s 21C

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 penalty for these offences is a fine of 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

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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