Companies still flouting consumer laws

Report shows 24% rise in Fair Trading Act complaints.

Customer paying by EFTPOS machine

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

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.

Companies still flouting consumer laws - Table - Interactive

Company No. of complaints
Vodafone 186
Spark  180
Foodstuffs 98
2degrees  88
Noel Leeming  82
Air New Zealand 77
Vocus Communications (parent company of Slingshot, Orcon and Flip) 68
Progressive Enterprises 66
Wilson Parking 62
Viagogo 57
Sky Network Television 56
Brand Developers 51
LuxStyle Aps 51
Harvey Norman 45
Trade Me 45
Fitlink New Zealand 43
The Warehouse 40
Trustpower 36
Contact Energy 33
PB Technologies 32

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