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Strengthening your rights as a consumer

Strengthening your rights as a consumer

17June 2014

From 17 June, there are changes in consumer law that will strengthen and protect your rights as a consumer when you shop both online and in person. The important consumer laws that are changing are the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act.

The law changes that will affect you:
The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) sets out guarantees that goods and services must meet when sold by someone in trade – that is, a retailer or service person. The Fair Trading Act makes it illegal for traders to mislead consumers, give them false information, or use unfair trading practices.

This will affect you in the following ways:

Online purchases – You will be protected if you buy goods and services from a business online. This includes when you bid for them in an online auction. From 17 June, businesses must also identify themselves as a trader when they sell online.

Auctions – You will be protected when you buy goods and services from a business by competitive tender or at auction (including online auctions). If you buy goods on Trade Me, for example, and they are faulty, you can ask the trader to put things right.

New delivery guarantee – If you buy goods from a business and they also agree to deliver the goods to you, they will be responsible for making sure those goods arrive in good condition and on time. This means that you will no longer be stuck in the middle of an argument between a retailer and a courier about who is responsible for damaged or lost goods.

Extended warranties – You will have the right to cancel an extended warranty within 5 working days of receiving it. Businesses will also have to explain to you before you buy the warranty what extra protection it gives you. If you say “yes” to an extended warranty and later wish you hadn’t, you have 5 working days to cancel.

Door-to-door and telemarketing sales – You will be able to cancel a contract within 5 working days if a business approaches you at home or at work, by phone or in person.

Proof of claims about a product or service – Businesses won’t be able to make false claims, which are claims about a product or service they don’t have evidence or reasonable grounds to make. For example, if a business claims a jersey is made from 100% natural fibres, they must be able to prove this.

Layby sales – Layby contracts have to be in writing. It makes it so much easier to prove you have one if a shop goes bust.

Unsolicited goods and services – Businesses won’t be able to demand payment for any goods or services you have not requested (eg if a business leaves a box of greeting cards in your mailbox, with the idea that you will buy them).
These changes will help consumers deal with confidence and support honest business practices. They will promote competition, innovation and sustainable growth, and better align our laws with consumer law in Australia.

More information about the law changes:

For information on consumer issues, visit:


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