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Companies still flouting consumer laws

A marked rise in Fair Trading Act complaints shows consumer rights are being ignored by too many retailers.

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The Commerce Commission’s annual Consumer Issues report shows a 24% rise in complaints since 2015. Complaints about potential breaches of the act jumped from 5489 in 2014/15 to 6798 this year.

Pricing practices, and claims about goods and services were the most common issues raised in complaints. Online sales comprised 42% of all complaints.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said it was disappointing, but not surprising, to see Spark and Vodafone again topping the list of the most complained about traders.

Vodafone attracted 186 complaints this year and Spark 180. Foodstuffs, owner of the New World and Pak’nSave supermarket brands, followed them with 98 complaints.

Ms Chetwin said companies named in the commission’s report were also a common cause of complaints to Consumer NZ’s advisory service, which receives about 4000 inquiries a year.

“The telco industry and appliance retailers regularly feature in complaints to us. Despite the fact the Fair Trading Act and Consumer Guarantees Act have been in place for over 20 years, some traders are still deliberately hazy about their responsibilities,” she said.

The commission’s report also showed 242 complaints were received about potential breaches of the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act.

A significant proportion of complaints (22%) related to lenders failing to comply with their responsible lending obligations. Ms Chetwin said 54 complaints concerned the lender failing to make reasonable inquiries about a borrower’s needs or their ability to repay the loan.

“Responsible lending rules were meant to ensure banks and others lenders didn’t extend credit to consumers who couldn’t afford to repay the money. It’s a major concern if lenders aren’t playing by the rules,” she said.

Twenty-one traders generated 20% of Fair Trading Act complaints.

CompanyNo. of complaints
Vodafone186
Spark 180
Foodstuffs98
2degrees 88
Noel Leeming 82
Air New Zealand77
Vocus Communications (parent company of Slingshot, Orcon and Flip)68
Progressive Enterprises66
Wilson Parking62
Viagogo57
Sky Network Television56
Brand Developers51
LuxStyle Aps51
Harvey Norman45
Trade Me45
Fitlink New Zealand43
The Warehouse40
PTMO37
Trustpower36
Contact Energy33
PB Technologies32

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