Barry and Marian's case

Barry and Marian Wilson

Barry and Marian Wilson could not afford to go to the District Court.

Barry and Marian Wilson paid $10,000 to have laminate flooring installed in their house. They had the flooring laid in their living areas and also (on the advice of the installer) in the bathroom.

Soon after, ridges appeared in the flooring caused by the boards pushing together. The couple also discovered the product shouldn’t have been installed in the bathroom as it was unsuitable for wet areas.

The Wilsons went to the Disputes Tribunal to try to get things fixed. It took over a year and numerous hearings before a decision was made. During this time, the ridges in the floor got worse.

Barry and Marian eventually got some compensation but were left unhappy with both the outcome and the process. Appealing the decision to the District Court would have meant hiring a lawyer – an expense they just couldn’t wear. 

Pete and Gill’s case

Pete and Gill (not their real names) wanted new weatherboards, windows and doors put in their Wellington home. When the doors and windows arrived, the couple found two different types and shades of timber had been used for the internal framing.

So they went to the Disputes Tribunal and, after two hearings, got the joinery company to replace the timber. The company also had to repair leaks in the door.

Pete and Gill then ended up in the Tribunal again over a dispute with the builder who had installed the doors and completed the other building work.

The couple believed the work was substandard; the building expert they hired agreed. So they got another builder to fix the worst of the problems. The original builder then took them to the Tribunal over non-payment of his bill.

The Tribunal referee decided Pete and Gill should have given the first builder more time to remedy the problems.Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, the supplier must be given the opportunity to make good. It’s only when the person can’t or won’t that you can seek redress.

Pete and Gill weren’t happy with the decision – they believed they’d given the builder plenty of time to fix things – but couldn’t afford to take the case further.
 

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