Determining faults in products
The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) sets out the standards that traded goods must meet and the remedies if a standard is not met.
‘‘ Goods’’ include second- hand goods ordinarily bought for personal or household use, used by yourself or given as a gift, and free items given away by a trader or manufacturer when you purchase goods.
Guarantees for goods include the goods being:
of acceptable quality which means fit for their normal purpose
acceptable in finish and appearance free from minor defects safe and durable
The test for deciding whether goods are of acceptable quality is: ‘‘A reasonable consumer would find the goods acceptable taking into account: the price paid, nature of the goods, statements made by the trader and any information on the goods or packaging.’’
So what does this mean when your toaster doesn’t toast or your fridge/freezer doesn’t chill/freeze? Basically if one of the standards is not met, you may have rights to have a trader (and in some cases the manufacturer) put the problem right.
Remedies can include, repairing the goods, giving you an identical replacement, providing you with a refund, and in some cases asking for compensation. So who chooses the remedy? Under the CGA, if the fault is minor and can be remedied, you must ask the trader to put the problem right.
The trader can choose between repairing, identical replacement or refund.
If the fault is serious or can’t be remedied you, (not the trader) can choose between rejecting the goods and asking for a refund, replacement or keeping the goods but asking for compensation to make up for the drop in value caused by the fault.
A serious fault is one where the goods are:
Unsafe – eg an electric blanket has faulty wiring
significantly different from the sample or description
substantially unfit for their normal purpose.
There are also other things to consider when deciding if the fault is serious including how long you have had the goods before a fault developed, how much the goods cost, claims made about the goods, and other factors. At the Citizens Advice Bureau we have an excellent booklet Your Consumer Rights (Goods) – A Guide to the Consumer Guarantees Act.
This information can also be found on our website cab.org.nz in the form of questions and answers.
Please call us on 04 237 8846 or free phone 0800 367 222, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information about your rights and the Consumer Guarantees Act.
Our service is free and confidential.
Citizens Advice Bureau Porirua is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.20pm, and open until 7pm on a Thursday, Pember House, level 2, 16 Hagley St, Porirua.