The Commerce Commission has released its Consumer Issues Report for the year to June 30, 2017.
The Report is one of the initiatives undertaken by the Commission to understand better the potential issues facing New Zealand consumers and where there is likely to be the greatest harm.
The report takes a detailed look at the 7270 complaints the Commission received during the financial year and describes a range of interesting trends.
Fair Trading Act issues
We are receiving an increasing number of complaints about Fair Trading Act issues such as pricing practices, representations about goods and services, warranties and guarantees, and traders not delivering the goods purchased.
With the continued growth of online shopping, we are now seeing more than 40% of Fair Trading Act complaints relate to consumer experiences online.
While internet shopping is convenient and gives consumers access to new products, consumers need to research the traders they intend to buy from and pay attention to additional costs such as booking fees, the currency they are paying in, and whether the fine print discloses they have been signed up to a monthly subscription.
Telecommunications continue to be the most complained about industry, with the number of complaints increasing by nearly a third on last year. This trend reinforces our decision to make retail telecommunications a priority focus area for the coming year across both our consumer and regulation work.
Other industries that feature in the most complained about category include domestic appliance retailers, motor vehicle traders, electricity retailers and supermarkets.
In relation to consumer credit, complaints about issues such as irresponsible lending, repossession practices and consumers finding it difficult to apply for hardship protections from their lender when in financial distress have increased by nearly a quarter on the 2015 calendar year.
We believe this increase is in some part fuelled by our work with the budget advisory sector to help them to identify and report lending practices that may be unlawful.
We are continuing to focus on compliance with consumer credit laws and will prioritise the investigation of irresponsible lending practices in the coming year because of the significant harm it can cause already vulnerable consumers.
The full report and infographic illustrating the key findings can be found on our website.
Anna Rawlings is Commissioner, Commerce Commission.