New laws to protect consumer welcomed
A Palmerston North man on the sour end of a dodgy deal is welcoming new consumer protection laws, which have come into force to provide greater security against unfair practices.
Changes to the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act were introduced yesterday.
The CGA will apply when consumers buy goods or services from a business by competitive tender or auction, including online.
The act sets out guarantees that have to be met for goods and services sold by someone in trade - that is, a retailer or service person.
The Fair Trading Act made it illegal for traders to mislead consumers, give them false information, or use unfair trading practices.
Chris Smith of Palmerston North knows all about the risks involved with buying online.
Two years ago he bought a Honda Civic through Trade Me and found out the hard way not everyone can be trusted.
"The auction stated ‘as is, where is'.
"It was my mistake - I trusted Trade Me photos.
"They basically said that it was in mint condition and had no rust or mechanical issues or anything like that. I paid for it and had a friend drive down to Napier to pick it up.
"As soon as I saw it in daylight it was pretty much a complete and utter waste of time. The exhaust was broken, suspension and shocks were spray painted to try and make them look like they weren't damaged."
Smith paid $2000 for the car that now sits in his garage in pieces and unused.
Smith said he was stuck, the seller denied any liability and there was nothing he could do. He still uses Trade Me but said he was a lot more cautious when buying online.
Consumer NZ is welcoming new consumer protections.
"Long overdue changes to the CGA and Fair Trading Act will provide greater protection against unfair practices and dodgy dealers," Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said.
"Up until now, goods bought through auction on sites like Trade Me have been excluded from the act. That's been a windfall for the growing number of traders who use auction websites because they've been able to avoid any responsibility for faulty goods. This won't be able to happen any more," Chetwin said.
Trade Me spokesman Paul Ford said Trade Me supported the inclusion of auctions and online sales in the CGA.