What are your rights when buying from a seller e.g. in a garage sale?
Private sales are not covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act or the Fair Trading Act so make sure you check out what you are buying — and from whom — before you commit. You have far less protection than if you are buying from a trader.
If you can get a receipt from the seller and record anything they tell you about the item, you may later be covered by the Contractual Remedies Act if it turns out you have been misled (there is more information about the Contractual Act on the Consumer Affairs website).
Some tips to protect yourself if you are buying in a private sale:
• Some people use Facebook pages to sell stolen goods, from hi-tech gear to weaponry. If the seller says it “needs to be gone”, there may be a dodgy reason.
- For more expensive items (eg. a car), check on the “Personal Property Securities Register” (PPSR) that the seller really owns it, and whether the goods are being
- used as security for a loan.
- If the deal is a real “steal”, ask them why. Could the
- designer watch be a fake? Or, maybe the seller has no intention of sending you anything in return for your payment.
- If possible, inspect the goods in person before you buy.
Look for feedback from other customers (e.g. on the Facebook page, on message boards, on the feedback pages for a trading site.
Consider using an escrow service (e.g. Safe Trader if buying through Trade Me, or SafeKiwi) where you pay the money to an independent third party who doesn’t release the money to the seller until you’ve received the goods.
If you’re not using an escrow service, pay by credit card, internet banking (if to a NZ bank account), cheque or money order instead of cash or telegraphic transfer — so your payment can be tracked.
Make sure you get a receipt and the name and address of the seller, and record anything the seller has told you about the item. If anything goes wrong you can use this information to track down the seller and/or make a claim at the Disputes Tribunal.
What can you do if you are unhappy with what you bought in a private sale?
Start by contacting the seller. The two of you may be able to agree on a solution (e.g. you return the goods and they return your money).
If this does not work, your next option is to claim to the Disputes Tribunal. If you believe the seller misrepresented the goods to you, you can make a claim under the Contractual Remedies Act. Alternatively, if the goods don’t match the description supplied by the seller, you can claim under the Sale of Goods Act.
For further information, contact your local CAB.