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Can you back up those claims?

Sellers need to be able to prove any claims they make about items they're selling on Trade Me.

21 August 2023

Any claims you make must be able to be backed up by evidence.

Have you ever seen an advertisement and thought to yourself the product claim was outlandish, or just a straight-up lie?

The Fair Trading Act has your back.

The Act

Sellers must have reasonable grounds for making a claim about the goods or services they're providing.

If they can’t back it up, the Commerce Commission can take proceedings against them.

The extent of substantiation required will depend on the nature of the claims. A higher level of proof will be required for claims that a consumer cannot easily verify.

What does it mean for Trade Me users?

Buyers and sellers on Trade Me should be aware of these requirements:

  • Traders should always be able to back up any claims they're making about their products.
  • Buyers should know that they have the right to ask for traders to back up their claims.
  • Use the Q&A to ask the seller, or report the listing via Community Watch if you think we need to investigate.

The Commerce Commission provides the following advice:

  • If you can’t back it up, don’t say it.
  • Rely on facts, figures and credible sources of information, not guesses and unsupported opinions.
  • Keep documentation or other information that you have gathered in the process of sourcing or researching a good or service.
  • You must have reasonable grounds for claims at the time they are made, substantiating a claim after it was made may not get you off the hook.

What about exaggeration for marketing?

If the claim is so outrageous that no one would reasonably believe it, it’s okay to make – as no one is likely to be misled.

This is commonly referred to as puffery. Traders using puffery should take care to make it obvious and remember that the Fair Trading Act aims to protect everyday people like you.

Making a complaint

If a seller can’t or won’t back up their claims, report the listing so we can look into it further.

You can also make a complaint directly to the Commerce Commission.

This is also a good time to remind that persons 'in trade' need to let other members know.