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Fair Go: August 7

Published: 6:05PM Monday August 05, 2013 Source: Fair Go

Refurbished electronics - your rights

Reporter: Amy Kelley

You buy a brand new smartphone. Or tablet computer. Or gaming machine. You soon realise there's something seriously wrong with it.

You take it back to where you bought it. No problem, says the retailer; we'll send it away to get assessed. And sure enough, they confirm the product's faulty.

But instead of giving you the brand new replacement you were expecting, they hand you back a 'refurbished' unit - made up of repaired, second-hand parts from other people's returns.

It's a story we're hearing again and again at Fair Go.

Manufacturers argue that refurbished electronics are as good as new. Any faults have been expertly repaired and they're vigorously tested to ensure they meet product specifications.

We agree there are plenty of upsides to refurbished electronics - if that's what you choose to buy in the first place. Many manufacturers sell refurbished electronics direct over the Internet, and buying these can save you money (they're generally at least 15% cheaper than brand new), as well as save stuff from the electronic scrap heap.

But is it fair to get given a refurbished replacement if your brand-new purchase fails?

Your rights

First, you and the retailer need to agree on the nature of the fault - whether it's serious or not. ( More info on that here ).

If it is a serious fault, you choose the remedy:

- A refund; or
- A replacement

And if you choose a replacement, it must be of the same type and similar value to what you bought. If the retailer's only offering a refurbished item and you're not happy with that, you can opt for your money back instead.

If the fault's not serious, the retailer decides the remedy:

- A repair; or
- A replacement

In this scenario, any replacement must be identical to what you bought. In Consumer Affairs' view (and ours), 'refurbished' does not fit the bill.

A retailer can't tell you it's not their responsibility to sort out, palm you off to the manufacturer or tell you that their 'hands are tied' by the manufacturer's policy. The manufacturer's policy does not override your rights under the CGA.

Where to go

If you believe you're entitled to a brand-new replacement but the retailer won't budge, you can file a claim with the Disputes Tribunal.

If the retailer is a telco (like Telecom or Vodafone), you can file a claim with the Telecommunications Disputes Resolution service.

And if you believe a retailer has misled you about your rights as a consumer, you can complain to the Commerce Commission.

Your new kitchen gets smashed up, but who's going to pay?

Reporter: Libby Middlebrook

Phil and Deb Rive found the perfect new flat pack kitchen for their house on Trade Me, manufactured by an Auckland company.

The paid $10,000 upfront, and the manufacturer suggested they collect it in person. But because the Rives live in Twizel, they organised for a freighting company to transport it to them.

But when the kitchen arrived at a depot in Christchurch, it was in ruins.

The situation then got even more messy. The kitchen company blamed the freighting company for rough handling, and the freighting company blamed the kitchen company for insufficient packaging. But as an act of good faith, every one involved has now pitched in to get it sorted. The Rives are now shopping for a new kitchen.

Wet Night

Reporter: Hannah Wallis

In late June Allan and Joan Smith's family shouted them tickets to the Glen Miller Orchestra concert at Christchurch's CBS Arena to help celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. And they hired a limo from Christchurch Limousines - $120 for half an hour - for a trip the family says would normally take 15 minutes -  so plenty of time.

On the night it was raining hard and the traffic was terrible - but the driver still took them "for a spin",  to use up time, instead of going straight to the drop off at the Arena. The driver found himself running over time, late for his next job, so he said he'd have to drop them off well short of the Arena. They then had to walk about 200 meters in pouring rain - no umbrella, no hats, no raincoats - they got soaked. And then had to sit through the concert, saturated and very uncomfortable. 

When they complained, Christchurch Limousines said only that the booking was for half an hour, the rain was unfortunate, and they could have 50% of their next ride. No apology, no refund. The company says they could not provide door to door service to the CBS Arena anyway. They say the couple would have been unhappy either way, getting there too early and not using up the half hour, or getting there late.

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