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Your consumer rights

Know your consumer rights

This short film shows some of the troubles you might have with things like faulty products, warranties and door-to-door sales. It will also tell you about the rights you have and how we can help.

Have you ever:

  • bought something that broke right away?
  • had something that broke when it was just out of warranty?
  • been pressured into buying something you didn’t want?
  • had problems with lenders or book up?

You have rights that protect you. These rights are there:

  • when you shop in a store
  • when you shop online
  • when you buy from someone who comes to your door
  • when you buy from someone who calls you on the phone.

So if something goes wrong with anything you’ve bought, make sure you speak up. This counts for both things you buy and work you pay someone else to do. When you buy anything, the business makes you a promise.

This promise has two main parts:

  • Anything you buy has to do its job properly. It has to work and it has to be safe when it works.
  • They should not break down or fall apart too quickly. Expensive things must work for longer than cheaper things.

We call this promise a consumer guarantee. It applies every time that you:

  • buy an item from a business (whether it’s food, clothes, household goods, toys or anything else)
  • hire someone to do a job (like painting, car repairs, hairdressing or anything else).

Every business has to make and keep this promise. It’s illegal if they don’t.

Before you buy something

You should always do these things before you buy anything:

  • Think carefully about the item and what you want it to do.
  • Shop around and look for the best deal. Compare the quality and price.
  • Ask for advice from family, friends and experts.
  • Check goods carefully. Look for dents, rips, fraying edges or loose parts.

If things go wrong

The business has to keep its promise. If something goes wrong, you can:

  • get your money back
  • give it back and get a new one
  • get it fixed.

The business has to do this for you for free.

Here are some examples of things going wrong:

  • You buy something but don’t realise that it’s broken or unsafe.
  • You buy something but it breaks down or falls apart after a short time.
  • You buy something but it doesn’t match how the business described it. It might be the wrong size, colour, shape or design.
  • The business showed you a sample, but the actual product doesn’t match what you saw.
  • The business told you a lie about what their product could do. This might be from their salesperson, a sign or an ad.

What to do if something has gone wrong:

  • Stop using the product.
  • Return it to the store or call the service provider as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you have proof of purchase, such as a receipt. Take it with you when you return the goods.

Returning products

Usually you have to take the goods back to where you bought them from.

However, if the goods are too expensive to return, the business must organise to collect them from you.

This might be because:

  • the goods are too big to easily move, like a TV or bed
  • you live a long way from where you bought the goods
  • the goods are broken and you can’t move them.

What doesn’t count

These are not examples of things going wrong:

  • You change your mind and don’t want the product anymore.
  • You realise you can’t afford it.
  • You buy something and then find the same item for a cheaper price at a different store.
  • You buy something that you already knew was broken or faulty. This might be an item on sale because of a scratch or a dent, which is fine as long as the business pointed it out.
  • You broke it yourself.

If any of these happen, the business doesn’t have to do anything. They might choose to offer you some money back, an exchange or a store credit, but they don’t have to. It is completely their choice. Before you buy the product, ask them about their refunds policy to find out what they offer.

Don’t take the risk!

Uncle Bob and Aunty Helen went to a toy store to buy a teddy bear for their granddaughter’s birthday. They found a bear and took it straight to the counter to buy it. They saw a sign taped to the counter that said ‘No refunds or exchanges’. They bought the bear anyway.

Aunty Helen was wrapping the present when she found a tear on the bear’s leg. She didn’t think she could return it or get her money back because of the sign on the counter. She was wrong. She had the right to get her money back, or swap the bear for a new one. This is because she didn’t know about the tear when she bought it and would not have bought it if she had known.

The store’s policy of ‘no refunds or exchanges’ was illegal.