Oops, I sat on my drone.

With the festive season rapidly approaching us with family time, sun and relaxation to look forward to, this period can also bring with it a heap of unwelcomed stress. One unfortunate event that that can put a real dampener on anyone’s Christmas day is a broken gift. Whether it is a broken part to a new toy, a malfunctioning electronic device, or an item that just does not work the way it was advertised, knowing your consumer rights and how to address such issues can alleviate this stress and disappointment.

Consumer Guarantees Act

The most important protection and safeguard to you when you purchase any product from any retailer in New Zealand is the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993. This Act places various duties upon retailers selling consumer goods as well as protections for consumers that can remedy undesirable situations, such as a broken gift on Christmas day.

Any product that you purchase from a retailer must must be of an acceptable quality, reasonably safe, and fit for purpose. So the item must do what it was advertised to do as well as what you reasonably expected it to do. For example a drone that is unable to fly would not be held to be of acceptable quality or fit for purpose.

Repair, replace or refund

The retailer you purchased the product from is obliged to either repair, replace, or refund the product if the item if the product does not meet this standard.

When you are returning a product to the retailer, if the problem is fairly minor than the retailer has the choice as to whether they want to repair, replace or refund the item.

If the item cannot be repaired or the repair is not completed within a reasonable time period, then the consumer has the choice as to whether they would like a replacement for a product of same or similar value, or a full refund on the product altogether.

What about gifts I give to others?

However the nature of gifts can complicate this process as normal practice dictates that you generally do not receive the receipt along with your gift. This means that you’ll have to chase up the person who brought the gift for a receipt, otherwise the retailers can reject helping you resolve the broken item if you do not have any proof the item was purchased from them. So a timely reminder to keep receipts for items you have purchased to gift in case it has any unwanted faults!

You are also unable to return items when the fault or damage has been caused by yourself or someone else. For example if you or a relative sit on and break an item left on the couch after a few too many Christmas dinner beverages, this would nullify your rights of redress from the retailer.

What if I purchase the gift on TradeMe?

Who the gift is purchased from can also determine whether you have cover under the Consumer Guarantees Act or not. For instance if you buy a second hand item on Trade Me from a private seller, this seller is not ‘in trade’ and therefore not bound by the same standards and obligations as a retailer.

Situations where you do not like the gift or you have been gifted an item you already own can be a bit more complicated as retailers have discretion as to whether they will accept returns for items or not. If you do return an item that has no faults then generally it must be unused and in the same state as it was when it left the store. If a retailer’s policy does allow for the return of products, generally the option for the consumer is either to replace the product with something of similar value or receive a store credit in the value of the item.