Christmas shopping: Know your rights

Christmas - it's not easy. Photo credit: Getty

Filling up the trolley this Christmas? Make sure you know your rights in case something goes wrong.

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment says there are 12 major pitfalls, including laybys and returns, which catch people out.

  • If you change your mind about a purchase or the recipient doesn’t want the gift, the retailer is under no obligation to provide a refund or exchange. 
  • When you buy digital gifts, be sure it's not a scam or illegal, and check what the seller does with your personal information.
  • If a gift is faulty, you may be entitled to a remedy, replacement or refund.
  • If you're buying a vehicle for a loved one, make sure you've done your pre-purchase homework.
  • Don't overspend, and check the small print on your laybys and credit card purchases.
  • Doing some DIY to impress the spouse? Double check what permissions you need from the council first.
  • If a gift includes service or installation, you may be entitled to refunds or compensation if it goes wrong.
  • If you've been paying off a hamper all year, the law treats these the same as a layby.
  • Buying a gift from a private seller, as opposed to someone in trade? Be aware of the risks this entails.
  • Be suspicious of door-to-door salespeople, and don't forget you have the right to say no.
  • Buying a pool? Be aware you might also have to provide a fence.
  • Be aware of what rights you have under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

Consumer protection manager Mark Hollingsworth says even law changes need to be taken on board.

"There are new requirements for fencing around swimming pools - that includes paddling pools. When it comes to that this summer, it's really important to know what those safety requirements actually are."

Mr Hollingsworth says online shopping also poses risks.

"Expectations on delivery, especially when people are looking at shopping overseas, [be aware of what your] consumer rights are there. The website address doesn't necessarily mean they sell in New Zealand."

More information on what to do when things go awry is available on MBIE's website.