Goods you buy must be of “acceptable quality” 

If you buy consumer goods from a New Zealand business, you are protected by law. The Consumer Guarantees Act says that those goods must be of “acceptable quality” under the law. But what does this actually mean?

Basically it means that anything you buy from a business should do what you would expect it to, and last a reasonable length of time.

Under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) a product is of acceptable quality if it: 
  • is fit for its normal purpose (eg a vacuum cleaner should clean the floor well),
  • is in good working order (eg a vacuum cleaner should work reliably),
  • has an acceptable finish and appearance (eg a new vacuum cleaner should not have dents or scratches),
  • has no minor defects (eg a vacuum cleaner hose should be securely attached not loose), 
  • is safe to use (eg a vacuum cleaner should not overheat) and
  • is durable (eg a vacuum cleaner should last a reasonable amount of time before breaking down).
If you arrange for the business to deliver the product to you, they are responsible for ensuring that it arrives in good working order.

You do need to take into consideration the age and price of the item. For example, you would not expect a very cheap item to last as long as a more expensive version; and you might expect to see some wear and tear on a secondhand item but not on a brand new one.

Another thing to remember is that if the business points out any faults with an item before you buy it, you can’t claim for those faults later.

If the goods are not of acceptable quality, you can go back to the business as soon as you find a problem with it and they have to do something to put it right. Keep a record of problems you have had with it, such as when it has inexplicably stopped working, and receipts for any repairs you’ve had to get done to it.

Depending on what the problem is, the business must: 
  • repair it at no cost to you, or
  • replace the item or give you a refund if it can’t easily be fixed.
The business can’t simply refer you to the manufacturer, require you to return the item in its original packaging, or offer you store credit instead of a refund. Don’t be put off if the warranty has expired - if you reasonably expect something to last several years, then you can go back to the business if there’s a problem with it.

If the product is faulty and caused damage to your property, you may be entitled to compensation for that.

If you do strike any problems getting the problem fixed just give your local CAB a call or visit.

For more information, visit our Consumer Guarantees Act and Fair Trading Act page or the Consumer Protection page on faulty products.