2017

June

  • Join the consumer movement (Sue Chetwin) 06 Jun 2017
    I was chatting to the chief press secretary for one of the political party leaders recently in the “green room” at TV3. He was waiting while his leader delivered his pearls, I was there to talk heating and switching power providers. We shot the breeze over electricity prices before he said fibre was being delivered to his street and he wanted to know which would be the best provider.

May

  • Here’s the cold truth (Sue Chetwin) 05 May 2017
    There was an eerie quiet in the Consumer office one day this month. A silence that comes when you feel like you’re the only one there. That’s because I almost was. Half the team was off with a nasty head cold.

March

  • The $68m sting (Jessica Wilson) 16 Mar 2017
    They masquerade under various guises. The “booking fee”. The “service fee”. Even the “print your own ticket fee”. They’re the extra charges retailers, particularly online traders, are fond of adding to the advertised price of goods and services.
  • Staying safe online (Hadyn Green) 15 Mar 2017
    The focus of today’s World Consumer Rights Day is data security and we’re here to remind you to stay safe online.
  • On the highway to help (Sue Chetwin) 13 Mar 2017
    If you’re in the market for a car, you’ve probably seen the flurry of ads enticing punters to pick up the latest model on finance deals from as low as 1%.

February

  • Smart, but not always secure (Hadyn Green) 08 Feb 2017
    Don’t buy WiFi light bulbs. In fact, don’t buy any IoT (internet of things) devices. They may sound like useful gadgets to have in your home, and if I’m fair they can be, but they will annoy the heck out of you every single day.
  • What happens to your data? (Hadyn Green) 08 Feb 2017
    I ended 2016 attending a series of conferences and seminars that did their best to make me scared of what 2017 may hold. All of them involved personal data and internet-connected devices, and other people using the latter to get to the former.

  • What’s on your mind (Sue Chetwin) 01 Feb 2017
    What better way of sinking your teeth into an election year than asking consumers what’s on their minds. Our latest consumer survey shows home ownership concerns high on the list, but they were topped by worries over healthcare costs. Just half had confidence in the healthcare system.

January

  • Don’t gift vouchers to shops (Sue Chetwin) 30 Jan 2017
    Warning! Do not leave your Chrissy gift vouchers stuffed in a drawer. Because before you know it they may expire. If they are from companies with stingy expiry dates, such as Kiwibank’s Prezzy Card (12 months), the clock will be ticking. The card might have been a couple of months or more old before you even received it, so don’t hang about.

2016

December

  • It’s hard to get good advice (Sue Chetwin) 23 Dec 2016
    A Consumer NZ technical writer was taken aback when a member told him a sales assistant at a Noel Leeming store had said not to bother with Consumer advice as it was paid to do product reviews — specifically phone reviews.
  • Consumer matters at Christmas (Paul Smith) 22 Dec 2016
    With freshly unwrapped gift cards and every store offering a sale, Boxing Day is heaven for bargain hunters. But the satisfaction from saving dollars soon dulls if your bargain doesn’t perform as well as expected. That’s why you should check our test results before temptation takes over — a savvy consumer saves money on a great appliance or device, rather than wasting it on heavily discounted underperformers.
  • Plenty to choose from (Sue Chetwin) 06 Dec 2016
    We’re a contrary bunch at Consumer NZ. We launched the Bad Taste Food Awards this year to bring prominence to the far-fetched marketing claims made by some manufacturers. What we hadn’t expected was more than 200 entries. We’re not sure whether that makes us happy or sad!

October

  • High levels of bad taste (Sue Chetwin) 31 Oct 2016
    Our Bad Taste awards have attracted plenty of nominations. Under conventional rules of running a competition you would say that was great news — the more entries the merrier. But the ease with which people find unhealthy foods to nominate somehow seems unsavoury.

September

  • Charitable thought (Sue Chetwin) 09 Sep 2016
    It may not have been top of mind this week (or in your mind at all), but it was “Include a Charity Week”. To be frank, I didn’t know about it myself until I stumbled upon a reference online. The week is to encourage people to include in their will a gift or bequest to charity.
  • Hold off buying new iPhones (Hadyn Green) 08 Sep 2016
    The press release starts: “Apple Introduces iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus – Our Best, Most Advanced iPhone Ever”. Despite the tautology (no manufacturer releases a phone that’s worse than its previous one), the word it should have used is “controversial”. There are several changes from the iPhone 6S, but they’re mostly minor.
  • What could be simpler? (Sue Chetwin) 08 Sep 2016
    It’s fashionable to cite “Uber” when someone has a grand plan to disrupt a fat, overblown fees-driven industry. “We’ll be the Uber of this or that,” proponents claim as they hawk their new service. Usually these new services are online-only, promise lower fees and that they will be more consumer friendly.
  • Marking gift cards (Sue Chetwin) 05 Sep 2016
    By the time you read this, there will be just over 100 shopping days until Christmas. Scary! For those, like me, who are imaginatively challenged when it comes to buying presents, a gift card might seem like the perfect answer.

August

  • Replace vs repair (Paul Smith) 31 Aug 2016
    It started with an intermittent groan that soon became louder and more frequent. It was joined by a regular and annoying squeak. The last straw was an awful grinding, graunching noise that had me running to shut off my clothes dryer before it made my ears bleed.
  • Do food standards matter? (Sue Chetwin) 08 Aug 2016
    The New Zealand and Australian food standards regulator (FSANZ) recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. I attended a day-long event and, there being no such thing as a free lunch, gave a presentation on what food standards and safety mean from a consumer perspective.

July

  • Poor advice at a premium (Sue Chetwin) 5 Jul 2016
    If there’s one time you shouldn’t be taking your life into your own hands, it’s when you’re considering a life insurance policy. But that’s exactly what you could be doing if you buy a policy from some financial advisers.

June

  • Warming up in winter (Sue Chetwin) 14 Jun 2016
    At a recent dinner party, a couple from Paekakariki on the Kapiti Coast chatted about the sale of their family home. The interesting point about this, other than the fact their home sold quickly, was that the most popular question the real estate agent was asked was whether the house had double-glazed windows.
  • Stay vigilant online (Hadyn Green) 10 Jun 2016
    Phishing attacks are increasing and New Zealanders are seen as easy targets by scammers. We have lots of advice for keeping safe online, but as users learn what to avoid, the scammers move on to new and slightly more sophisticated schemes.

  • Don't buy into bottled water myths (George Block) 8 Jun 2016
    It’s a marketing triumph worthy of Mad Men’s Don Draper: getting people to pay more for bottled water than they pay for petrol, when there’s perfectly good water available for next-to-nothing from the tap.

May

  • A driving concern (Sue Chetwin) 19 May 2016
    Consumer tech writer Hadyn Green recently went for a spin in the all-electric BMW i3. There was lots to like, but what really pressed his buttons was taking his feet from the pedals and letting it park itself.
  • The electric vehicle revolution (Paul Smith) 13 May 2016
    In five years, two percent of the cars on New Zealand roads will be electric. That’s the goal announced by Minister of Transport Simon Bridges last week.

April

March

  • Home truths (Jessica Wilson) 15 Mar 2016
    Aspiring homeowners hoping 2016 will be the year they make it on to the property ladder won’t find much encouragement in the latest statistics.

February

2015

December

  • Make your consumer voice count (Consumer board) 22 Dec 2015
    Your Board has been working hard this year, alongside the staff at Consumer NZ, grappling with the challenges the rapidly changing consumer environment brings for both consumers and their representatives.
  • Using your block (Sue Chetwin) 17 Dec 2015
    It was just over a year ago I got a Kiwibank MasterCard. That was as a result of my experiences using an ANZ Visa card overseas.
  • Great expectations – not (Sue Chetwin) 10 Dec 2015
    For your edification, here’s my list of 10 businesses or industries that need to try harder.

October

September

  • Businesses you can trust (Sue Chetwin) 24 Sep 2015
    The release of the Commerce Commission’s Consumer Issues 2015 report highlights the important role Consumer NZ’s Trusted business programme plays.
  • Switch off incandescent bulbs (George Block) 23 Sep 2015
    Incandescent light bulbs are virtually unchanged from the carbon-filament lamp patented by Edison in 1880. They still convert less than five percent of the energy they use into light, with the rest wasted as heat, and only last about 1000 hours.
  • Advice for installing a child’s car seat (Paul Smith) 18 Sep 2015
    New Zealand Police spot checks consistently show that more than 50 percent of child seats in cars are either the wrong size for the child or fitted incorrectly.

August

  • BYO shopping bags (Sue Chetwin) 04 Aug 2015
    I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks in Aspen, Colorado this February. A number of features in this wonderful part of the world caught my attention.

July

June

May

April

March

February

January

  • Google Translate app (Hadyn Green) 20 Jan 2015
    The problem with travelling overseas is not speaking the language. Google, and a number of other companies, are trying to make the world a smaller place by creating translation apps.
  • Sony’s new range (Hadyn Green) 16 Jan 2015
    I am an unapologetic fan of the Sony Xperia Z series of phones and the third iteration is the perfect improvement on the previous model. This is partly because there are two new phones!
  • Shopkeepers need wake-up (Sue Chetwin) 06 Jan 2015
    It’s time the regulators had a good look at how consumer laws are working and warn a few retailers about their obligations because some shopkeepers need a wake up call.

2014

December

  • My ill-fated YouShop experience (Kate Newton) 22 Dec 2014
    I’d been meaning to try NZ Post’s YouShop service for a while, so when my foundation ran out in November I thought I’d see if I could get it cheaper from the US.
  • Editorial: It's a wrap (David Naulls) 08 Dec 2014
    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.

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

  • Neutral parties (Hadyn Green) 29 May 2014
    When you sign up to an ISP you want access to the internet, not access to parts of it at varying speeds. So let's talk about net neutrality.
  • The numbers game (Hadyn Green) 20 May 2014
    How much does it cost to make a TV show? Game of Thrones is reported to cost in the region of $6m per episode.
  • The long wait (Hadyn Green) 07 May 2014
    TV shows (especially dramas with long storylines) are susceptible to spoilers, with each episode containing at least one large plot point.
  • Editorial: Not so sweet (David Naulls) 07 May 2014
    The amount of sugar Kiwis consume on a daily basis is startling and sobering – between 10.5 and 17 teaspoons depending on age and gender.
  • Shop trading hours (Sue Chetwin) 02 May 2014
    Rubbish was collected as normal on Anzac Day and transfer stations were open all day. So what’s with the piety about shops having to shut on Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

April

  • Getting inside the walls (Hadyn Green) 28 April 2014
    Geoblocks are a type of technological protection measure that stops you from accessing media unless you are from the correct country
  • Happy trails? (Hamish Wilson) 17 April 2014
    Are you irritated by the flight “reviews” which populate the travel columns of our daily papers? Most can only dream about this. It’s not the experience most of us ”enjoy”.
  • ESC - mandatory at last? (Hamish Wilson) 17 April 2014
    We’ve been telling you of the benefits of electronic stability control (ESC) since 2006. ESC applies brakes to individual wheels to straighten out a skidding car.
  • Is this a fair price? (Hadyn Green) 16 April 2014
    Some of you may have noticed I made a mistake in my first blog when I calculated the per-episode cost to watch Game of Thrones legitimately in New Zealand.
  • Across the Narrow Sea (Hadyn Green) 14 April 2014
    The last season final episode of Game of Thrones was the most downloaded TV show ever according to statistics compiled by the site TorrentFreak.
  • Bring down the king, Sky 08 April 2014
    Did you see Game of Thrones last night? If you did you saw it only one of two ways.
  • Editorial: Power to your bills (Sue Chetwin) 03 April 2014
    The cost and delivery of electricity to your home is an election issue worth your interest.

March

February

January

2013

December

November

October

  • Feel safe buying that new game console (Hadyn Green) 22 October 2013
    What are your consumer rights if the next generation of consoles develop the problems that tend to plague new hardware?
  • Food for thought (Sue Chetwin) 09 October 2013
    When I learned most of our farmed salmon was fed a diet containing abattoir by-products - off-cuts from poultry processing and bloodmeal from cattle, pigs and sheep - I blanched.

September

  • Death of a piggy bank (Kate Sluka) 27 September 2013
    The piggy bank was going to be 'retired' in favour of her own bank account and a card.
  • Fighting the Good Fight (Kate Sluka) 19 September 2013
    Have you ever been so annoyed with the lack of service in a store that you've put down the items you wanted to buy and walked out? I have.
  • New Zealand is different (Andrew Smith) 17 September 2013
    New Zealand is different. Spend enough time working in areas like household efficiency, energy supply and house design and construction and you'll hear that catch-cry a lot.
  • A shopper and her money are easily parted (Sue Chetwin) 05 September 2013
    now a lot more than most about the cunning ways people are separated from their money - legally and fraudulently. But many of us don't need a snake oil salesman to part us from our earnings. We voluntarily part with it.

August

  • Toughen up (David Naulls) 08 August 2013
    The Consumer Law Reform Bill now wending its way through Parliament contains many wins for consumers.

July

June

  • Calling earth (David Naulls) 06 June 2013
    Our view on the unfairness of the Reserve Bank's proposed "haircut" of bank deposits in the event of a registered bank failure in this country has struck a chord.

May

  • Warming up this winter (Belinda Allan) 27 May 2013
    Ideally the temperature in our houses during winter should be between 20°C and 24°C – and not drop below 16°C for bedrooms. But for our family that's been a challenge.
  • Exploding tables - what next? (Hamish Wilson) 03 May 2013
    One of our members got a serious fright when his glass table "exploded". When you're over 80 you really don't need this sort of shock – so he asked us to put out a warning.

April

  • Dodging Air NZ surcharges (Hamish Wilson) 12 April 2013
    There've been quite a few complaints recently at the way Air New Zealand hits customers with surcharges when they pay for flights by credit card. Recently I found an easy way to avoid copping these fees when booking flights to Canada.
  • Doggy day care (Luke Harrison) 04 April 2014
    A few weeks back, my mother asked me to dog-sit Louis while she was away. “No bother,” I said. How hard could it be?

March

  • Switching power (Sue Chetwin) 08 March 2013
    It's no coincidence that a slew of electricity price rises comes amid the warmest and sunniest summer we've had in ages. I bet the electricity companies are hoping we won't notice.