Goods delivery now the seller's concern
Thought you've got a bargain online and then it's never arrived, or taken forever?
Sadly this is a familiar scenario for us. Recently Lisa* contacted us after the tickets she ordered for a jazz concert didn't arrive until after the concert had already ended.
Unfortunately these sorts of issues have often been very difficult to resolve, with the seller blaming the courier, and the courier company blaming the seller, with the poor consumer stuck in the middle.
The courier company has obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act to provide their service with reasonable care and skill, which should include timely delivery of goods.
In this example the courier company claimed the delay in the delivery of Lisa's tickets was outside of their control, leaving Lisa with few options apart from taking them to the Disputes Tribunal.
The good news is this is all changing from Tuesday, when changes to the Consumer Guarantees Act come into effect.
One key change is a new guarantee of delivery, which means that when a supplier is responsible for arranging the delivery of goods, they must ensure the goods reach the consumer in the agreed time period (or a reasonable time, if no time period was agreed).
As with all the protections provided by the Consumer Guarantees Act, this only applies to goods bought for personal use, from a trader in New Zealand.
The upshot is that if Lisa had this problem after the 17th and gone directly to the ticket company, they would have had to sort out the problem and refund her.
They also would potentially have to cover any other costs she incurred because of the late delivery.
* Names have been changed to protect privacy.
■ Andrew Hubbard is national research and policy adviser at the Citizens Advice Bureau.