6 October 2022

Garden bag businesses warned over unrequested free trial

‘Spare bag’ promotion prompts warning over unrequested goods and services.

Five garden bag businesses have been warned by the Commerce Commission for potentially creating the impression customers had to pay for services they didn’t request.

The five businesses – Gabco Garden Bags and Bins, The Garden Bag Company, Manukau Garden Bins, Clippa Garden Bags and Bins, and Greenfingers Garden Bags – promoted a ‘spare bag’ trial to about 40,000 existing customers between October 2020 and January 2021.

The Commission received 20 complaints after the garden bags were dropped off with a letter (or email) offering the free trial. The letter said customers would be charged a $26 annual fee if they kept the bag after a certain date, and that if they didn’t want to keep the bag, the customer had to book removal.

Customers should not be expected to pay, or take any action to avoid payment, for a good or service they didn’t request, the Commission said.

“It is illegal under the Fair Trading Act for any business to ask for payment or expect a customer to take any action to avoid a payment, on an unsolicited good or service,” said Vanessa Horne, Commerce Commission general manager fair trading.

The Commission understands no customers were charged for the trial. However, the customers who came forward with complaints enabled the Commission to take action.

“The brands have since reviewed their marketing material and internal sign-off processes to help ensure the conduct does not occur again,” Horne said.

The Commission has also sent compliance advice to other garden bag brands which offered the ‘spare bag’ trial:

  • Auckland Garden Bins

  • North Shore Garden Bins

  • Counties Garden Bins

  • Waitakere Garden Bins

  • North Harbour Garden Bags

  • GardenBags.co.nz

  • GardenBins.co.nz

  • Baycomp Garden Bags 

  • Waikato Garden Bins

  • Rotorua Garden Bins

All brands that offered the trial are owned by three related companies across Aotearoa.

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