Selling guide

Selling on Trade Me: navigating warranties and returns policies

A customer unsatisfied with their purchase is never an ideal situation

Last updated: 14 June 2023

Whether you’re selling online or in person, a customer unsatisfied with their purchase is never an ideal situation. However, it also gives you an opportunity to turn a potentially negative trade into a great customer experience that will make you stand out from other sellers.

Having clearly written policies on your listings and Store pages, and dealing with warranty claims and returns promptly makes your customer more likely to return and not impact negatively on your feedback.

Even before a shopper purchases, they may look at your policies to gain confidence in the transaction – so present yourself as a professional seller who knows their stuff, and will keep their buyers happy.

Understanding warranties on Trade Me

Warranties are your legal obligation to fulfil – in New Zealand, all in-trade members must comply with the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) and Fair Trading Act (FTA).

The CGA makes sure customers get what they pay for and, if needed, a repair, refund or replacement for a faulty product or substandard service.

The FTA requires that consumers aren’t misled or deceived.

As an in-trade Trade Me seller, you must offer products that are:

  • of acceptable quality
  • fit for purpose
  • match the description given
  • match any samples or demonstrations given
  • able to be legally sold.

Understanding returns policies on Trade Me

When selling items on Trade Me, you may choose to accept returns in circumstances not related to a warranty or the CGA, for example, if the buyer orders the wrong item or changes their mind.

As these aren’t legal requirements, you have more flexibility about the terms that you offer, but your returns policy should be clear, and, if possible, consistent across all of your listings to avoid confusion.

Let the customer know exactly how long they have to return a product and what timeframe this refers to – the date of purchase, the day they received it, etc. This is especially crucial if your return period is shorter, such as 30 days or less. Common return time periods offered by sellers on Trade Me are 30, 60 or 90 days.

You may require that a buyer who has changed their mind to pay for return shipping costs. You may also choose not to accept ‘change of mind’ returns at all, however, if the buyer does return an item because it was defective, you must cover the cost of return.

If a member is returning an item because of a misrepresentation made in the listing (including the image) then your warranty or returns policy does not apply, and again, you must cover the cost of the return.

Know your stuff

Overall, your warranties and policies must not in any way mislead a buyer about their consumer rights.

We sometimes see sellers confusing returns and warranties, leading to:

  • Statements that the buyer is responsible for paying the cost of shipping returns in the event that the goods are faulty. This is not correct, under the Consumer Guarantees Act the buyer must be reimbursed for all shipping costs. This also means that Return To Base (RTB) statements are misleading.
  • Statements that may mislead the buyer about their rights. Any statement that attempts to limit the rights of buyers would not be enforceable. For example, to say that any complaints must be made within 15 working days is incorrect. The CGA allows a claim to be made, regardless of time.
  • “As is, where is” statements must not be made, because it misrepresents the buyers consumer rights (the CGA applies regardless of statements like this) and is likely a breach of the FTA.

Ultimately, as a Trade Me seller, it’s best to ensure that you’re clear on your legal obligations (warranties) and what policies you personally want to offer buyers to ensure they are satisfied (returns). The best way to ensure a positive trade for both yourself and the buyer is to clearly communicate both policies and keep them separate in your listing.

Not all trades will go as planned, but these tips can help both you and your buyer end up satisfied with the trade!