Moving or sending goods

We explain your rights under the Contract and Commercial Law Act.

11oct when goods arrive damaged or late hero

What can you do if a moving company or courier loses or damages your possessions, or they are late? We explain your rights under the Contract and Commercial Law Act and the Consumer Guarantees Act.

Contract and Commercial Law Act

If you hire a company to move furniture, send a parcel by courier or check in your luggage with an airline, you're covered by the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017. The Act gives you certain rights to compensation for loss or damage, though any contract you sign might limit those rights.

Loss or damage

The Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 gives you certain rights to compensation for loss or damage.

If you don't have a written contract with the carrier, your goods will be carried at "limited carrier's risk". This means the carrier is liable for any unintentional loss or damage up to $2000 for each separate item.

If you have a written contract, signed by you, it should specify the type of liability arrangement - either "limited carrier's risk", or one of these 3 options:

  • If the goods are carried "at owner's risk", the carrier is not liable for any unintentional loss or damage.
  • For goods carried "at declared value risk", the carrier is liable for loss or damage up to an amount you agree. This amount must be specified in the contract.
  • If the goods are carried "on declared terms", the carrier and the customer are free to negotiate all the terms of the contract as they wish. This arrangement will usually be used only by businesses.

There is an exception for intentional damage. If the carrier or an employee intentionally damage or harm your goods, they're liable for the full cost no matter what type of contract you have.

There is also an exception for mail. Letters are covered by the Postal Services Act 1998, and there is no right to compensation if they are lost or damaged, or arrive late.

Making a claim

Under the Contract and Commercial Law Act, you have 30 days to make a claim. However, the carrier's contract may specify a different period - in some cases just a few days. The carrier is free to do this, so it pays to check when you sign the contract.

If you can't resolve the problem with the carrier, you may be able to take a claim to the Disputes Tribunal.


Most carriers will only take goods at the owner's risk - so it's important you make arrangements for insurance, either through the carrier, or directly with an insurer.

Standard contents policies don't cover your goods during removals by a third party, so you'll need extra cover when you're moving house. Shop around - for moves within New Zealand you can expect to pay between 1 and 2 percent of the value of the insured goods.

Regardless of how you buy the insurance, make sure you check the policy carefully in advance.

  • Find out whether you're getting "replacement" or "indemnity" cover.
  • Check for exclusions - for example, some policies limit or exclude cover if you pack your own goods rather than using the professionals. You may be able to pay top-up insurance to cover exclusions.
  • Check the excess. A higher excess could result in a lower premium.

Make a list of all the goods to be moved and their value. The value you use will depend on whether you have replacement or indemnity cover.

Remember, most policies don't cover cash and valuable documents. See our report on House and contents insurance for more advice on how to keep your possessions covered in transit.

Consumer Guarantees Act

While the Contract and Commercial Law Act covers loss or damage to goods while in a carrier's care, the Consumer Guarantees Act will still provide protection against other types of loss if a carrier fails to carry out their service with reasonable care and skill. For example, if movers back their truck into your car while collecting your goods, they will be liable under the Consumer Guarantees Act for the cost of repairs.

You also have rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) when a retailer agrees to deliver goods you’ve bought from it. The retailer has to make sure the goods get to you on time. If you haven’t agreed on a specific delivery time, then delivery has to be within a reasonable time.

What happens if the goods don’t arrive on time? You’re entitled to claim compensation for any losses you incur as a result of the delay. You’re also entitled to reject the product and claim a refund if the failure to get the goods to you is substantial.

The CGA also makes it clear the retailer has to put things right when the goods arrive damaged. They can’t just blame the courier. It’s the retailer’s responsibility to provide a remedy: you don’t have to fight it out with the courier company.

If you receive something in damaged condition, complain to the company that sent it to you. Insist that they sort it out.

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Member comments

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12 Jan 2021
Retailer trying to opt out of responsibility for delivery damage after goods signed for?

I bought a number of kitchen appliances from a large NZ online retailer. After purchasing, they sent me an email stating that I cannot claim for transit damage after signing for receiving the products. The appliances arrived fully wrapped and boxed. The courier said I had to sign that they had been received "undamaged and in full working condition". He said he was allowed to wait a maximum of 15 minutes while I checked. There is no way I could unbox and fully check multiple appliances within that timeframe. Can a retailer legally opt out of transit damage if you have signed for receiving a product?

Frank - Consumer staff
13 Jan 2021
Re: Retailer trying to opt out of responsibility for delivery damage after goods signed for?

Hi David,

The retailer cannot contract out of the Consumer Guarantees Act, which is what they are trying to do here. It’s immaterial whether damage is caused in transit, in the warehouse or during manufacture – goods must be of acceptable quality when supplied to the consumer.

The expectation that a consumer should inspect a series of electrical appliances, and certify they are in full working condition, all within 15 minutes, and that they have no right of redress in respect of any damage not found in that time is contrary to the Consumer Guarantees Act as well as to common sense.

Kind regards,
Paul - Consumer NZ adviser

Previous member
13 Mar 2015
Goods got damaged during delivery? Can I ask the seller for total refund?

I bought some furniture from a trader on Trade Me. The seller got the delivery company to ship the furniture from Auckland to my place in Wellington. Unfortunately the furniture got damaged during transit. The seller was very apologetic and offer replacement to be sent out to me again. But I don't want the hassle anymore, am afraid the furniture will get damaged again. So can I cancel the purchase and ask the seller for a total refund (the furniture cost + delivery cost)?

Previous member
16 Mar 2015
re: Goods got damaged during delivery? Can I ask the seller for total refund?

Hello Irene, one of our advisors has said you should accept the replacement as (a) if the seller is in trade they’re entitled under the Consumer Guarantees Act to offer a replacement to discharge their legal obligations and (b) if they’re not in trade they’re only obliged to honour the original agreement and supply the goods as agreed. Unfortunately your fears about what might happen can be given no legal weight. As you are a silver member, you are welcome to call Consumer's advisors for more information. You can contact them on 0800 CONSUMER. Regards, Kate N - Consumer NZ staff.