Problems after the sale 


I recently bought a second-hand car at auction and I'm having problems with it. What can I do?

This depends on whether the seller is a trader or not and how the purchase was made:

  • If you bought the car at an auction house before 17 June 2014 then the Fair Trading Act applies so you may be able to apply to the Disputes Tribunal on the grounds that the auctioneer mislead you about the car’s condition.
  • If you bought the car on or after 17 June 2014 (whether in an online auction or at an auction house) and the seller was a trader then:
    • under the Consumer Guarantees Act the car needs to have been fit for purpose. In this case, you can complain to the trader, whose contact details should be on the notice of terms or the auction sale and purchase agreement. You’ll find more advice on how to complain effectively on our Complaints and Disputes pages.
    • you are also covered by the Fair Trading Act so the goods have to be the same as they were described to you.

Make sure you read the terms of the auction before you bid, so you are clear on where you stand.

You can find more information on our Auctions page and in our section about buying and selling cars.

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I had my TV replaced on warranty after it broke down. Do I get a new warranty with my replacement TV?

Normally the Manufacturer’s Warranty starts from the date of the original purchase, so you’ll only have whatever time was left on the warranty for the original item. However the Consumer Guarantees Act still applies to the replacement item and you have all the rights that you are entitled to when you buy something new.

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What can I do if I bought the wrong kind of item, such as a computer game which isn’t compatible with my game console?

This depends on the situation. Was the product advertised as being different to what it actually was? If it was, you would be entitled to a refund or replacement. Under the Consumer Guarantees Act goods have to match their description.

If it was your mistake in picking up the wrong kind of item or not reading the specifications on the package correctly, and the salesperson did not know what you required, then the shop doesn’t have to give you a refund, but it might be worth checking as many shops will swap it if it is still in original condition.

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I broke something in a shop and they want me to pay for it. There were no signs warning me of their policy about this. Is that legal?

Shops don’t need to have a sign saying “If you break it, you buy it”. If you cause damage to an item in a shop because you weren’t being careful, then you’re obliged to pay for the damage. If it wasn’t your fault, for example if you were pushed by a crowd against a stand of glasses, then you might not have to pay - but you do have to take reasonable care when you are in a shop (and if your children break something then you would have to pay for that, too).

If it was the shop’s fault, for example the shop was cluttered and hard to move around in, you may not have to pay. If you don’t agree to pay then the shop can take you to the Disputes Tribunal. This is a civil, not a criminal matter, so don’t be scared by threats to call the police.

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I am visiting from overseas. Can I claim my GST back when I leave?

No, there is no provision for a refund of goods and services tax for travellers in New Zealand.


What are my rights if I buy a parallel import and it turns out to be faulty?

Parallel importing is the practice of buying goods for a cheaper price in another country and bringing them to New Zealand to sell at lower than the usual market rate. For example, if a company such as The Warehouse buys Sony products in Malaysia and sells them in New Zealand for a cheaper price than Sony itself would – that is called parallel importing. It is legal, but the goods have to be the ‘real deal’ – no counterfeits or fakes.

If the goods were bought from a New Zealand retailer then you have the rights you normally would under the Consumer Guarantees Act or the Fair Trading Act


I returned my phone to the retailer because it’s faulty, and they charged me an inspection fee! Are they allowed to do that?

The retailer can charge you a deposit or fee to cover the cost of checking the goods for a fault – but they should have told you about this at the time of the sale. If they did not, then you can refuse to pay the fee.

Any fee must relate to the actual cost of inspecting the good to see what is wrong with it, and must be reasonable.

If they check the goods and find that there is a fault covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act then they must refund you the deposit/fee and offer you a remedy under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

Visit our Complaints and Disputes pages for how to proceed if you and the retailer can’t agree on the issue.