Monday, 22 November 2021 14:42

NZ’s Commerce Commission issues caution to consumers buying online for Xmas Featured

By Staff Writer

New Zealand’s consumer competition regulator The Commerce Commission has recommended that consumers buying online for Christmas do their research before using an online store for the first time and check any statements on the website about when the goods will be delivered. 

The Commission’s recommendation follows its warning about increased complaints from consumers and shoppers on stock and delivery in recent weeks.

“With the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales coming up soon, then Christmas and Boxing Day a month later, the secret to finding a genuine bargain starts with doing your homework,” said Commission Chair Anna Rawlings.

“We encourage consumers to shop around. Compare prices across several retailers before sales start so you can see which retailers are offering savings compared with the price you would usually expect to pay. Ultimately, ask yourself whether the price you are being asked to pay represents good value to you for the item you are looking to buy.” 

“We have seen an increase in complaints related to stock and delivery in recent weeks, so we recommend ordering early. If your order does not arrive within the stated time, you may have rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act,” said Rawlings.

The Commerce Commission’s comments come as it shared tips for “shopping success” to help consumers get genuinely good deals this holiday season.

The Commission notes that last year a major retailer was warned by the Commerce Commission for accepting payment for a product when it had no remaining stock to fulfil the order. 

“Consumers should also check returns policies and make themselves familiar with their rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act. With many more consumers buying gifts or household goods online this year, it helps to know their rights when it comes to returning them,” the Commission advises.

“Consumers should also check the fine print of any advertising or terms and conditions. Retailers shouldn’t be using fine print to conceal important information. If consumers are buying on credit or from a mobile trader, the Commission encourages them to make sure they understand all the terms and conditions – particularly if they are not getting the goods straight away.”

The Commission has also issued a reminder to retailers about their obligations and rights under the Fair Trading Act at this time of year. 

The Commission’s website has advice for consumers on buying goods and services, including buying online, consumer rights, and FAQS on consumer rights in relation to COVID-19.

Consumers or businesses can complain to the Commission if they think a business or person isn't complying with one of the laws it enforces. 

Earlier this year, the Commission filed charges against Strandbags alleging its representations about significantly discounted or special prices were liable to mislead the public.

In 2020, Noel Leeming was warned for making delivery representations without reasonable grounds during the COVID-19 lockdown.

In 2020, PAK’nSAVE Mangere was fined $78,000 for discrepancies between the promotional price displayed or advertised and the price charged at the till after pleading guilty to six charges of making false and/or misleading representations about price.

In 2017, Bike Barn was fined $800,000 after pleading guilty to charges under the Fair Trading Act. Bike Barn had attracted customers by creating misleading impressions about the discounts available on bicycles and the duration of the discounts. 

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