You’ve traipsed the streets, braved the malls and hit “pay now” more times than you can remember. But what happens if your gifts go wrong or your Boxing Day purchases fall flat?
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Retailers don’t have to refund or exchange an unwanted gift. Some traders will take back a poorly received present in the interests of good customer relations. But the best option to avoid your nearest and dearest being stuck with something they don’t want – or that doesn’t fit – is to ask the store for an exchange card when you make your purchase.
If the gadget’s faulty – and you haven’t caused the fault – then you’ve got rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). The act covers gifts you receive, not just things you buy for yourself. If the fault is minor, the retailer should repair the product, replace it or refund the purchase price. For major faults, it’s up to you whether you choose a replacement or a refund.
The CGA has you covered. The act says products have to match their description. So, if what turned up on your doorstep is different from what was advertised online, you don’t have to put up with it. If the retailer can’t provide the product advertised, then you’re entitled to a refund.
Your CGA rights only apply when you make a purchase from a retailer operating in our market. When you buy from an overseas website, your rights vary depending on the trader’s returns policy and the consumer laws in the country where the trader is based. Before you order, check how the company deals with returns.
Private sellers aren’t covered by the CGA. So if the item you get wasn’t what was advertised, you’ll have to rely on Trade Me’s Buyer Protection policy or the rights you have under the Contract and Commercial Law Act. If you don’t get the item described, you can take the seller to the Disputes Tribunal and seek a refund.
Sales are no different from any other time you purchase. You can’t return goods because you’ve changed your mind, but you can return sale items if the goods aren’t of acceptable quality. The only caveat is if the item is marked down because it had a defect that was pointed out to you at the time of purchase.
While you need to prove you bought it from the retailer, you don’t always need a receipt. You can use a bank statement to show proof of purchase. The store may also have a record of your purchase, especially if you used a loyalty card or had your details taken for a warranty.
The retailer doesn’t have to refund you. The only exception would be if you were misled about the product’s price or the sale period when you bought the item – for example, the retailer told you it was the final day of the sale and your last chance to get a discount. In that case, you’d have grounds to request a refund of the full price or the difference between what you paid and the new price.
Your first port of call is the retailer. When a product isn’t of acceptable quality, take it back to the store, point out the retailer’s CGA obligations and ask it to fix things. If the store won’t do the right thing, you have a couple of other options:
Disputes Tribunal: If you get nowhere with the retailer, take your case to the Disputes Tribunal. There’s a filing fee to lodge a claim. It costs:
Chargeback: If you paid by credit or debit card, you can ask your bank about a chargeback – a refund of the money you paid. This can be useful if you bought a product from an overseas retailer and it’s not coming to the party.
The CGA applies to goods bought for personal use, including gifts. But it doesn’t cover private sales.
A retailer can’t contract out of the act. They can’t put up a “No refunds” sign to try to get out of their obligations.
Retailers must guarantee goods they sell:
We’re the only New Zealand non-profit to independently put the products and services you want to buy to the test. But most of what we do is funded by our members, for our members. Becoming a member means you’ll have even more ways to get a fair deal, and choose with confidence.