Letters from May 2015

May 2015’s letters involve a cancelled extended warranty and foods without nutrition panels.

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Send us your questions or share your experiences.

Can I cancel my extended warranty?

I have a lounge suite on order and the store’s staff were very insistent that I buy their extended warranty, which I was told would cover me if something was spilled on the suite and caused a stain. I was told that if the stain could not be removed, the suite would be replaced. I don’t usually buy extended warranties, but I have three young grandchildren who spend much time with me – so at the time of making the deposit I accepted the extra $299. On further consideration, I have decided that I can handle any mess my grandchildren make and I have contents insurance for anything that is more of a problem. I intend to tell the store when I pay the balance on the arrival of the suite that I do not want the warranty. Am I within my rights to do this? BARBARA BROWN

Yes, you can cancel an extended warranty. Last year, new disclosure obligations regarding extended warranties came into force along with other reforms to the Fair Trading Act. Under these rules, retailers selling an extended warranty must give you a written summary of your rights to cancel the warranty within five working days. They should also verbally tell you about your right to cancel before you enter into the agreement. If the retailer doesn’t meet its disclosure obligations, you can cancel the warranty at any time (the five day limit doesn’t apply).

Can a trader do this?

Are these Trade Me trader’s conditions legal? The conditions state: “Customer satisfaction is paramount to us. We are happy to refund only on products that are damaged during shipping. In this case, damages must be reported to us within 24 hours of receipt of goods. Damaged merchandise must be returned within seven days of receipt … Arrangements for returns and exchanges and all return shipping costs will be paid for by the customer.” A MEMBER

The conditions don’t reflect the trader’s obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act. It’s unreasonable for the trader to stipulate damaged goods must be reported within 24 hours and returned within seven days – and it isn’t good enough to only refund items damaged during shipping. Under the Act, you can return a faulty item to the trader within a reasonable time and it must provide a remedy. What’s more, you can claim consequential losses (such as return shipping costs) incurred as a direct result of the faulty item.

Who should I turn to if the store’s no longer trading?

In November 2013, I bought two identical flat screen TVs from a department store that’s no longer trading in New Zealand. I did not buy an extended warranty. One of the TVs seems to have lost power to the screen. All other features continue to work. The only paperwork I received was a receipt/tax invoice. I do not know if the warranty is still current. I would appreciate your views before I contact the suppliers. STUART AVERY

You don’t have to buy an extended warranty nor rely on the manufacturer’s warranty thanks to the Consumer Guarantees Act. Under the Act, goods must be of “acceptable quality” (for instance, free from defects and durable) given the price paid and any statements made at the time of sale. In our view, a TV that only lasts one and a half years doesn’t cut the mustard. As the retailer has stopped trading, you should approach the manufacturer and ask it to compensate you for the faulty TV.

Update: The manufacturer has repaired the TV under warranty.

Should all food products have a nutrition information panel?

My partner fancied some hot cross buns, but being pre-diabetic, he asked me to check the label on them for sugar content. The buns were made by the in-store bakery at the supermarket. To my surprise, although the label listed the ingredients, there was no mention of amounts or percentages per serving or per 100g. I thought this information was now a requirement on food products. Does it only apply to certain categories? VICKI JEROME

Foods that are made or packaged on the premises from which they're sold – such as hot cross buns made by the supermarket – don't require a nutrition information panel (NIP). It’s this label that contains nutrition information per serving and per 100g. Other foods that don't require a NIP include:

  • packaged fresh fruit and vegetables where the produce is visible through the packaging
  • fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish that comprises a single ingredient
  • food packaged at your request such as home-delivered pizza.

Do scanned receipts count as proof of purchase?

As receipts tend to fade over time, I am considering scanning or copying them. Can you please advise if these copies would be acceptable as proof of purchase when making a claim or whether it has to be the original? ALISON BENISON

Yes – a scanned or photocopied receipt is an acceptable proof of purchase if you need to return a good. You can also use a bank statement or credit card slip as proof of purchase. The same applies when it comes to providing proof of ownership for insurance claims.

What should I do if goods I bought online don’t turn up?

On 12 April, I ordered some toys from IQ Toys. The confirmation email said my order would be processed the next working day. On 18 April, I emailed the store to chase it up as I hadn’t received anything. After no response, I looked up its website and a notice came up saying the store had gone into voluntary liquidation on 16 April and ceased trading. But I paid for goods that I haven’t received. What are my rights? A MEMBER

In this situation, you should ask for a credit or debit card chargeback from your bank. If your claim is accepted, the transaction will be reversed. If you apply for a chargeback, your bank will ask you to provide details such as the date and amount of purchase, and a description of the goods ordered. However, if the bank rejects your claim, you will have to register as an unsecured creditor with the company’s liquidator.

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