Problems with online and mail order 


I ordered a book by mail order a few weeks ago and it hasn’t arrived yet. Am I entitled to cancel my order?

It won’t hurt to just ask the retailer whether you can cancel your order and get a refund. Some retailers allow customers to return goods and get a refund, no questions asked, or cancel an order if the goods haven’t been dispatched yet.

If the retailer doesn’t allow for this in their terms and conditions, then what your rights are depends on whether you’ve bought from a New Zealand retailer or an overseas one, and whether you bought it before or after 17 June 2014.

If you’ve bought from an overseas retailer, please see our Online sellers page about your rights when dealing with overseas retailers.

You are covered by New Zealand law if you have bought from a New Zealand retailer:

If you bought the goods on or after 17 June 2014 you could claim that the retailer has not complied with their responsibility for ensuring that the goods are delivered on time (or within the agreed period) and in acceptable condition, and ask for a refund and cancellation of your order.

If you bought the goods before 17 June 2014, then your situation is not as clear cut. Under the Carriage of Goods Act delivery companies have an obligation to provide their services with reasonable skill and care, so you could ask the retailer to follow-up with the delivery company. However it will depend on the individual retailer’s policies whether they will let you cancel the order. 

If you have any problems contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.


I didn’t receive the goods I bought from an online retailer. What can I do?

The first thing you should do is contact the retailer and let them know that there has been a problem. You should ask them to check that they shipped it to the correct address, and if they have ask them to follow-up with the delivery company. Most retailers will offer to send a replacement or provide a refund if there are problems with delivery.

For goods bought on or after 17 June 2014 from a New Zealand based trader, where the seller has arranged the delivery, the seller is responsible for ensuring that the goods are delivered on time (or within the agreed period) and in acceptable condition (more about this is in the previous question and answer, and on our Basic consumer rights page). This means that if the goods don't arrive, arrive late, or arrive damaged, you are entitled to ask for a suitable remedy (e.g. that it be repaired or replaced).


I bought a video camera online and it was sent to me from overseas. Customs are charging me import duty and GST. What are my rights?

You may have to pay tax or GST on imported goods, like those purchased on eBay and other international websites. It doesn’t matter whether the imported goods were taxed in the country of purchase or not. In general Customs does not charge duties or taxes where these would total less than $60.

The New Zealand Customs Service has an online tool to help you work out whether you would need to pay customs duty or GST and how much. More information about customs is on our Customs and Biosecurity page.