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Know your rights when shopping for gifts

So what rights do you have when buying and returning presents? The Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act both have the role protecting consumers. The Consumer Guarantees Act covers the sale of goods (includes second-hand) and services purchased for domestic, personal and/or household use. The Act also applies to gifts so if you are given something faulty as a gift, you have the exact same rights as if you bought it yourself. The Fair Trading Act protects consumers from false or misleading consumer information.

When am I able to get a remedy for a defective good?
Goods must be of acceptable quality i.e. do what they are made to do, be acceptable in appearance and finish, free from minor defects and be safe and durable. Goods must also be; fit for the particular purpose that you asked about, match the description given in advertisements, sales brochures or by the sales assistant and match the sample or demonstration model. If any of these requirements are not met to the standard a reasonable person would expect then you have the right to a remedy. Also note, free gifts that come with purchases are covered, as are household goods that are hired, rented, leased or bought on hire purchase. Although many businesses have exchange policies to promote better customer relations, businesses do NOT have to refund or replace goods or services if you simply change your mind after you have purchased. So be sure of your purchases before you buy.

What kind of compensation can I get from the retailer?
The retailer can choose to repair, replace or refund your product. This must be within a reasonable time. You may also claim for any reasonably foreseeable additional loss that results from the faulty good or service. For example if your new ski gloves that you were given for winter are faulty and leak black ink from the inside of the gloves you can claim for the costs to hire a replacement pair while the first pair are being fixed as well as any damage the black ink from the faulty gloves may have done to your ski jacket or pants. When given a remedy be aware that sellers cannot just offer you a credit note. If you desire a refund, you are entitled to it by law. When you are given a replacement product the Consumer Guarantees Act also applies to this replacement. If you have to post or courier goods back to be repaired, you do not have to pay for those costs, it’s the retailer’s responsibility!

What if the seller claims that they do not give refunds?
Just remember if a retailer puts up a sign saying “No refunds or exchanges” it is useless! You still have full rights under the consumers Guarantees Act. This also means guarantees and warranties cannot state “No consequential losses covered”. This is because any attempt to contract out of the Act may mislead consumers about their rights. However when a product is ordinarily purchased for domestic use but is also used for business purposes (A common example are mobile phones) the Act allows the seller to contract out of the Act so be sure to ask about this when purchasing. Also if you are told by a retailer to contact the manufacturer or importer of your faulty good, don’t do it. It is the responsibility the retailer who sold you the goods to sort out the problem.

An important thing to remember whilst shopping for gifts is to retain all of your receipts. This is so that if some of the presents you give away turn out to be faulty you have a proof of purchase document allowing the recipient to return it. No proof of purchase, no refund. Also be mindful of the type of gift you purchase. For example if you buy clothing ensure you ask for an exchange voucher in case it doesn’t fit and remember not to remove the tags.
Above all happy shopping, and know your rights as a consumer.

Article is supplied by East Brewster Ltd in Rotorua – Commercial and Property Law Specialists