Monday, 01 October 2018 11:53

NZ’s PB Tech cops NZ$77,000 in fines over warranties breach Featured

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New Zealand computing and IT retailer, PB Technologies, has been hit with a NZ$77,000 fine for selling non-complaint extended warranties.

The fine was imposed by the Auckland District Court after PB Tech pleading guilty to 14 charges brought by the New Zealand competition enforcement agency, the Commerce Commission.

Between 11 May and 30 November 2017, PB Tech — which markets itself as New Zealand’s largest computing and IT retailer — sold over 4,000 of its PB Care extended warranties without giving consumers information to enable them to make an informed choice about whether to buy the extended warranty.

Under the Fair Trading Act, consumers should have received information including:

  • A summary of consumers’ rights and remedies under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA).
  • A summarised comparison of consumers’ CGA rights and remedies and those provided by the extended warranty.
  • Written and verbal information about the right to cancel the extended warranty agreement and obtain a refund if customers changed their minds within five working days.
  • A written copy of the extended warranty at the time of purchase.

PB Tech failed to comply with these legal requirements. 

In sentencing, Judge Thomas said he agreed with the Commission that there is a high need for a deterrent response.

“There is a significant public interest in ensuring that warranties and policies of that nature, renowned for their exclusions and limitations, are fairly provided or that disclosure relating to those is fairly provided to customers so that they can make an informed decision in investing a significant sum of money in that product,” he said.

PB Tech also sold AppleCare warranties for Apple products, and did not give consumers a copy of the extended warranty agreement at the time of sale and did not inform consumers of their cancellation rights.

Commissioner Anna Rawlings said the law clearly sets out the information that businesses must give to their customers when selling extended warranties.

“That information reminds customers of their rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act and helps them to decide whether an extended warranty offers useful extra protections and is worth the additional cost. 

“It also ensures that customers who make a decision on the spot know that they can reconsider within five working days, cancel the extended warranty and get their money back.

“All retailers selling extended warranties should take appropriate steps to make sure that their documentation is compliant and that their sales staff know what they need to do to comply with the law in store."

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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