Vic­tory in ex­tended war­ranty war

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH -

GOLDEN RULES

❚ Treat ex­tend­ed­war­rantieswith scep­ti­cism ❚ Do not fear to com­plain ❚ Knowyour Con­sumer Guar­an­tees Act rights.

within six years – then an ex­tended war­ranty is prob­a­bly ut­terly point­less.

Ditto for a fridge, or a mi­crowave, or a dish­washer, or a freezer.

Bear in mind though that ex­tended war­ranties can of­fer rights that go above and be­yond the Con­sumer Guar­an­tees Act. So why the dip in com­plaints? The an­swer may be that the com­mis­sion has been ed­u­cat­ing re­tail­ers, and a law change re­quires re­tail­ers to pro­vide the buy­ers of ex­tended war­ranties with de­tails of their key rights un­der the Con­sumer Guar­an­tees Act. All is not to­tally well though. The com­mis­sion noted ‘‘the wide­spread move­ment by re­tail­ers to­ward push­ing con­sumers to man­u­fac­tur­ers for war­ranty claims’’.

What that means is re­tail­ers say­ing: ‘‘sorry your (in­sert ap­pli­ance here) broke, but go to the man­u­fac­turer if you are un­happy’’.

Un­der the Con­sumer Guar­an­tees Act, the re­tailer has to fix the prob­lem.

Be­ing a re­tailer can be very tough.

They are com­pet­ing with online stores, and peo­ple seem to want to pay less and less for items, mean­ing fu­ri­ous dis­count­ing and semi-per­ma­nent sales.

It’s no won­der that they try to sell war­ranties to im­prove their prof­its, or to pro­tect them by send­ing un­happy con­sumers away to deal with the man­u­fac­turer.

The trick when a re­tailer tries to fob you off in the di­rec­tion of a man­u­fac­turer is to use the magic words ‘‘Con­sumer Guar­an­tees Act’’.

Larger re­tail­ers seem to have a process in place when a cus­tomer shows signs of not be­ing to­tally ig­no­rant of their rights.

It’s not nice to com­plain, but do­ing so with an even tem­per and a firm­ness of pur­pose is good for you, and good for your fel­low con­sumers.

It’s amaz­ing it took so long to re­form the law on ex­tended war­ranties.

The rea­son is that New Zealand be­lieved for so long in ‘‘caveat emp­tor’’; that it was up to the con­sumer to pro­tect them­selves.

Greater con­sumer pro­tec­tions have been brought in where this has been ex­posed as mis­placed faith, but the go­ing has been slow. There’s a good rea­son for that.

Fred Dodds, head of the In­sti­tute of Fi­nan­cial Ad­vis­ers, told me that it was time the Com­merce Min­is­ter was given a seat in Cab­i­net.

Aus­tralia has just taken that step, and so should we, he ar­gued. I’m with him.

Too of­ten busi­ness in­ter­ests have trumped con­sumer in­ter­ests on the po­lit­i­cal front, and it is time that con­sumers were rep­re­sented at the high­est level of gov­ern­ment.

The rub is the Con­sumer Guar­an­tees Act re­quires items to be fault-free and durable for as long as most peo­ple would ex­pect that kind of prod­uct to last.

Com­plain­ing is the ex­er­cise of a con­sumer’s power.

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