Biz Week: Brickbats and bouquets

ROELAND VAN DEN BERGH
Last updated 11:57 18/07/2014

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Who deserves a pat on the back in business this week, and who caused eyebrows to be raised?

Bouquet: Big tick

Consumer NZ plans to give a big tick to companies that go above and beyond for their customers.

Business that earn the watchdog's "Consumer Trusted" tick must commit to a strict code of conduct and eight principles to deliver " genuinely top-class customer service".

In practice this means exceeding the minimum standards required under our already stringent consumer laws on such things as refunds and warranties.

Those that meet the test will be allowed to stamp the tick on their advertising - in return for a fee of up $25,000 a year.

That also makes the scheme a good money spinner for Consumer NZ, which will use the funds to fight the good fight on behalf of its 60,000 members. 

Brick Bat: Sour milk

Plunging prices for dairy products such as whole milk are bad news for farmers and the economy in general. Dairy is New Zealand's top export earner.

Dairy companies such as Fonterra sell their raw materials to manufacturers of milk, cheese, infant formula and yoghurt at a global auction twice a month. But prices for these commodities have fallen by a third this year, including a shock near 9 per cent drop this week.

Eventually farmers will feel the pain in their pockets through lower farm-gate milk prices, reducing their spending and potentially slowing the economy.

The price of milk, butter and cheese on shop shelves is also unlikely to fall any time soon, or by much. That is because rapidly rising dairy prices last year had been absorbed by the milk companies rather than being passed on to consumers.

There is one possible silver lining for mortgage holders at least. Interest rates may not rise as fast or go as high as expected if the economy slows. 

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