The major highlight of the year is the long overdue changes to the Consumer Guarantees Act and Fair Trading Act that became law in June. Consumers now have extra protection against unfair practices. We argued long and hard for many of these improvements.

A new ban on unsubstantiated claims means companies won’t be able to make a claim about a product or service unless they have reasonable grounds for making it. Consumers now also have more protection against retailers who push extended warranties.

Testing products is still at the heart of our activities. Its value can be seen from our recent sunscreens test where we have identified what we believe are serious flaws in the testing and approval regime for sunscreens. We want to see more regular testing of sunscreens and rigorous auditing of testing laboratories. Also our test on stick vacuums had a spectacular range of low to high scores for carpet cleaning. Products aren’t made equal and our test programme reveals this.

In February, our test of children’s face paint resulted in a product with extremely high levels of lead being withdrawn from the market. The face kit claimed it met EU toy-safety standards but the high levels of lead meant it should never have been sold.

The shift to sum-insured house insurance has made consumers responsible for working out the costs of rebuilding their home. But our mystery shop of companies offering sum-insured valuations found significant differences in their estimates. Insurance will be a key focus in 2015 as consumers need greater protection.

Another area where we’ve been campaigning for better consumer protection is the murky world of door-to-door selling.

We launched our “Do Not Knock” campaign in November to fight back against dodgy door-to-door traders. We launched this campaign because of the serious complaints we get about door-to-door traders selling overpriced products, often to people least able to afford them. We’ve already distributed nearly 100,000 “Do Not Knock” stickers.

On behalf of Consumer, I thank the staff for their committed hard work throughout the year. I also wish all our members a happy holiday season. Without your continued support we couldn’t achieve what we do.

About the author

David Naulls is Consumer's deputy CEO and the editor of Consumer magazine.

David works closely with the research and testing team to ensure the quality of all articles published by Consumer NZ. He has previously been a research writer and contract books writer at Consumer. Before returning as Content Editor, he was a freelance writer and editor for 25 years. David has post-graduate qualifications in journalism and political philosophy.