Letters from March 2018

This month's questions involve a corroded trampoline, security for Apple products and tyre sizes.

Row of letters in envelopes

Each month, our experts answer members' questions. If you're a paying Consumer member and have a consumer issue, you can contact our advice line for help.

Corroded trampoline

I have a seven-year-old trampoline that is dangerously corroded. The warranty on the steel frame is for 10 years, so it should be covered. However, I bought two trampolines with a friend to save shipping costs. The trampolines were delivered to my property and my friend made the purchase. The manufacturer is arguing I am therefore a second-hand owner (as I paid my friend) and don’t get a warranty. This seems unreasonable to me as my ownership of the trampoline was from new. The manufacturer has already replaced the affected components on my friend’s trampoline, as it had suffered the same corrosion. I’m wondering whether I am right to expect the full protection of the manufacturer’s warranty. A MEMBER

WE SAY: The trampolines were delivered to your place and you paid your friend before paying the manufacturer. That means you must be a customer and your trampoline was never second-hand. As a customer of the manufacturer, you should be able to rely on the warranty and your full suite of rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act. You’re entitled to the same treatment your friend received when their trampoline suffered the same fault as yours.

UPDATE: The manufacturer agreed to replace the trampoline frame.

Faulty weather monitor

I purchased a weather monitor via a New Zealand website for $90 about 12 months ago. A few weeks ago, it started reporting air pressure of about 4080hPa – much higher than the realistic 1000hPa you’d expect to see. After resetting the device failed to fix the issue, I contacted the retailer and discussed a warranty repair, as the device had failed a week before the warranty end date. The store referred me to the manufacturer. It requested I return the unit – to Germany! If I mail the unit, it will cost me a quarter of the price I paid for it! I don’t feel this is reasonable. Should the manufacturer cover the cost of returning the device or does it have any obligation to provide local support where its product is sold? NEIL BATES

WE SAY: As you paid a New Zealand retailer for the product, you can ask it to sort things out, even if the warranty has expired. You’re entitled to request the retailer replace the faulty monitor or give you a refund. You don’t need to send your unit to Germany.

UPDATE: The retailer gave Neil a refund as it no longer sells the device.

Short-lived GPS

In May 2015, I purchased a Garmin GPSMAP 64s. The price, including a preloaded mapping program, was $559. A few days ago I got it out and found it wouldn’t work. This unit has barely been used. When I contacted the store, the sales rep I spoke to stated the warranty on this product was for one year and had expired. I said I was aware of this but a GPS unit worth $559 should last longer than two-and-a-half years and that I would like it fixed, pursuant to the store’s obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). She said Garmin would replace the unit for $250. I asked her to point out to Garmin that this cost was not acceptable under the CGA. Could you please confirm that I am correct here? What would you consider a reasonable life expectancy for such an item? LESTER STEVENS

WE SAY: Your GPS has certainly not lasted a reasonable amount of time for a $559 unit. You are correct to point out your rights under the CGA weren’t met, regardless of the warranty expiring. The retailer is obliged to put you in the position you would have been in if the product had not been faulty. This means repairing the GPS within a reasonable time or, if this is not possible, replacing it and the mapping program or providing a refund.

UPDATE: The store replaced Lester’s GPS and its mapping system.

Portable or fixed heat pump?

I was wondering if you could give me information on portable heat pumps. I have seen some at a reasonable price but have been unable to find any reviews online. A MEMBER

George Block, Consumer technical writer, says: You’re better off going for a fixed heat pump. While you’ll pay more upfront, they have better efficiency, are quieter, and are generally better at heating and cooling than their portable equivalents. Another issue is that portable models need to be ducted out a window to be used in cooling mode, unlike fixed heat pumps, which have permanently installed ducting through your wall. We tested a Dimplex combined air conditioner/heater/dehumidifier last year and found it was a jack of all trades, master of none. They’re generally only worth considering if you need a portable unit for a garage or workshop, or to temporarily cool a rental property during a searing heatwave and you have a budget of about $500. (Although I would probably just fire up a fan in this case.)

Apple security

Do you have information on whether Apple products, such as MacBooks or iPads, need additional security? Most of what I read online suggests Apple devices don’t need this but, when looking for a new iPad, the three shops I visited all recommended I buy extra security. I realise they have a vested interest in maximising their sales so I was wondering what your recommendations are. We will be using the new device for online banking. BARBARA SMITH

Erin Bennett, Consumer technical writer, says: Security software may seem like an unnecessary extra but, in this case, given you’re planning on using the device for online banking, it’s money well spent. It’s a popular myth Apple devices are safe from online nasties – malware can affect them. Many security software products have an Apple version. A good security program for a mobile device will cost you about $25 a year, while the computer version is about $80. You can see our test results for computer.

Tyre size

You recently published a review of car tyres. Various tyre sizes were included, but not the size on my car: 205/65 R15. Is there any tyre in the survey against which I can compare my tyres to see how they rate? MALCOLM CRAIG

Paul Smith, Consumer head of testing, says: The rule is to look at tyres with numbers as close to the size you need. Tyres that aren’t too different in width or height tend to work in a similar way. So for your tyres, the tests for 195/65 R15 would be a good comparison. You could also use the results for 205/60 R16, although the tyre height profile is lower and the rim diameter bigger.

Letters that get results

Letters that get results

Letters that get results promo

Letters that get results

Do you need to put a complaint in writing? Use these draft letters as a guide.

Learn more

We’re here to help

We’re here to help

Why join consumer promo img

We’re here to help

Do you know about the Consumer Advice Line? Paying members can contact us about any consumer-related issue, from returns and repairs to warranties and replacements.

Learn more

Member comments

Get access to comment