When services go wrong – what are your rights? 


When you pay for a service from a business you are covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act. This means that the service must be:

  • fit for purpose – the service you get is the service you have agreed to pay for;
  • provided with reasonable care;
  • completed within a reasonable time if the timeframe wasn’t agreed to beforehand; and
  • a reasonable price if you didn’t agree on a price beforehand.

Examples include:

  • you pay someone to build a fence on your property but the fence collapses due to poor workmanship.
  • you pay to have a suit made and completed in time for a big event, but the suit is completed several months late.
  • you ask a mowing company to cut the grass in certain areas around your house and they accidentally mow down your flower patch as well
  • you get a tradesperson to urgently change the element in your hot water cylinder and they charge you substantially more than expected and much more than what other tradespeople subsequently quote to you. 

If this happens to you, you are entitled to go back to the business and the business has to put it right. This might include offering to fix the problem or do extra work at no extra cost to you or giving you a refund. If you can’t come to an agreement with the business, you can take the matter to the Disputes Tribunal.

When you are looking to pay for a service it’s important to be clear about what you want done, because the business relies on the information you give them to help you choose the right service or services.

Note that the following types of services are not covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act:

  • Commercial services (eg a cleaning of your business premises)
  • Work done by a charity 
  • Services paid for with a statutory fee such as rates.

Read more about the Consumer Guarantees Act.