Getting goods fixed 

I bought a computer online and it is not working. What are my rights?

Generally, the laws that apply to over-the-counter sales apply to online retailers as well (as long as they are based in New Zealand).

If you bought the computer for personal use (not for commercial purposes) and you bought it from a trader (as opposed to a private sale) then you are covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act. 

The first thing you should do is contact the retailer and let them know there is a problem. It’s important to keep all copies of emails, letters and receipts so you have a record of the sale in case anything goes wrong (read more about complaining effectively on our Complaints and Disputes page).

If the good is faulty (i.e. if you didn’t cause the problem) and the problem is minor the retailer can choose between repairing the goods, replacing them or giving you a full refund. If there is a major problem you can return the goods and demand a replacement or a complete refund.

If the retailer won’t replace or repair the computer or refund your money as is required under the Consumer Guarantees Act  then you can take your case to the Disputes Tribunal

If you buy goods from a private seller then you aren’t covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act and you have less protection. This means that it’s important that you take extra care when buying goods privately.

You may be able to seek compensation under the Contract and Commercial Law Act if you can show that the seller misled you about what you were buying. You may need to go to the Disputes Tribunal to make a claim.

If you need more information contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

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How long should an appliance be expected to last?

The Consumer Guarantees Act says that products have to be durable, based on what a reasonable person would expect. You will need to consider how much you paid for the product and whether your use of it has been reasonable or not.

For example if you bought a toaster for $30 five years ago and it stops working then you won’t be covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act because you have had a reasonable life out of it - but if you bought an expensive television five years ago and it stops working then you will be covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act.

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My computer is not working and its warranty has just expired. What are my options?

You might still be covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) even if your warranty has expired. A warranty is in addition to the Consumer Guarantees Act and can’t override or replace it. The CGA says that goods must be durable and last for a reasonable amount of time. The definition of reasonable will depend on the price you paid for the computer and how long ago you bought it. Under the CGA a consumer can choose whether they claim from a retailer or a manufacturer. 

The retailer or manufacturer has to sort out any problem that a consumer brings to them that involves a breach of the guarantees in the CGA within a reasonable amount of time. If the problem with your computer can be fixed then the retailer has to get it repaired at no extra charge to you. If the problem is serious then you can choose to get a refund or replacement. For more information, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

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Do I have to show a receipt if I have a problem with goods?

The shop where you bought the goods can ask for proof that the goods were in fact from that particular shop. A shop can refuse to help with the problem if you cannot prove you purchased the goods from that shop. 

If you don’t have the receipt, you could show a credit card statement or a bank statement which shows date, time, amount and location of the sale. If the goods are faulty and you can prove that you bought them from that shop, but the shop won't accept this, then you can take a claim to the Disputes Tribunal.

Establishing proof of purchase is much easier if you have a receipt so try and hold on to important ones. If you need help with your situation then contact your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau.

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My stove is broken and under warranty, but the company that sold it is out of business.

This is a tricky situation and getting the stove repaired by the company who sold it could be difficult if the company is out of business. However, if the retailer is out of business, you can go to the manufacturer, who also has obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act. If both the manufacturer and retailer are out of business then you probably won’t be able to get the stove fixed under warranty.

If you need more advice you can speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

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My cell phone is not working and the phone company claims it is water damaged. I absolutely deny this. What can I do?

Under the Consumer Guarantees Act mobile phones have to be fit for their purpose but they’re also sensitive pieces of equipment and should be treated carefully. If you’re sure that you haven’t caused any moisture or water damage to the phone then your claim is with the retailer on the basis that the phone isn’t fit for its purpose.

If they still insist on charging you for the repairs you could take it to another repairer for a second opinion. If you need more help in taking your dispute further- to the Disputes Tribunal - you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.