Trust & Safety Blog

Tripod fuel tanks may not be sold on Trade Me

Compliant Tank

As tripod fuel tanks are replaced, some keen farmers have seen an opportunity to sell them on Trade Me.

This does not make WorkSafe very happy, as they cannot be legally sold, relocated or reconditioned.

The reason, is that due to their design and age they are at risk of collapse which could cause harm – or worse.

Indeed, the manufacture of these three-legged fuel stands was halted in 1996 when official approval was withdrawn. This was due to the ‘result of numerous accidents due to the failure of the tanks supporting structures and stability.‘

In the modern health and safety era, all above-ground farm fuel tanks must meet Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 design standards, and tripod fuel tanks do not meet those standards.

The intention at the time was farmers could use existing tanks until they reached the end of their working life, with the intention they be removed from service at the appropriate time

Given these old tanks can not be used in a new location, Trade Me does not allow their sale and will remove any three-legged fuel tanks it finds.

Fair warning farmers, WorkSafe is keeping an eye on things and will let us know when they spy them too.

How to list sunbeds and lamps

Sun -bed

Recently the Public Health Association released information on the sale of sunbeds and sunlamps on Trade Me which raised questions about buyers needing to be fully informed of the risks of using such devices.  

We note that Parliament thoroughly considered the use of sunbeds in 2015 and decided to continue to allow the sale and use of sunbeds.

While the second-hand sale of these products is not restricted by the law, we encourage members to be aware of the risks of purchasing and using sunbeds.

To support this, from 31 October 2017, sunbeds and sunlamps will be added to our banned and restricted items list.

If you are selling sunbeds or sunlamps on Trade Me, you’ll be required to make a few statements about the potential risks of the product within your listings.

These are:

  • Anyone under 18 should not use the sunbed or lamp 

  • A warning that fair-skinned people may be at greater risk of skin damage;

  • Recommend the use of safety goggles;

  • Add a text based link to Cancer Society’s information sheet on Sunbeds and sunlamps.

  • Not make any claims about the potential health benefits of sunbeds or sunlamps.  

As with all listings on Trade Me, we expect all sellers to accurately describe their product’s condition in line with our listing policies i.e. if all safety timers work, or if the unit needs repairing.

For more information on these products, check out the Cancer Society’s information sheet or Consumer NZ's investigation

Image credit Claudia Otte as per Creative Commons on Flickr

Ear me, ear me, ear candle sellers


So, you’re an avid fan of ear candles and you want to spread the word by selling them on Trade Me?

Great! We’re proud of the extremely diverse assortment of things available on the site, even if they do involve earwax!

Ear candling dates back to 2500 B.C and involves beeswax and cotton ear candles being inserted into the ear. Yes, you read correctly – into the ear.

The generally-held belief by those who testify to their effectiveness is that ear candles utilise a process called ‘convection’ which allows the soft wax to oxidise debris in the ear canal and turn the debris into vapours.

However, not everyone believes in the effectiveness of ear candling. There’s significant, lengthy and waxy debate on the topic, but we won’t get into that here.

Lots of the claims made about ear candles are therapeutic, e.g. claiming they can cure migraines, fix ear nose and throat problems, and/or relieve pain or inflammation.

All of these are therapeutic claims.

By law, when therapeutic claims are made about your items it makes them medical devices.

We don’t doubt that there are plenty of people who swear by ear candles to sort some of these issues, however, therapeutic claims such as these should adhere to the guidelines produced by the Association of New Zealand Advertisers.

Here at Trade Me we try to keep an ear out for these kinds of issues so we can make sure Trade Me users are well-informed about their rights and responsibilities.

This is going to get complicated, so bear with us

What it boils down to, is that therapeutic claims must be able to be substantiated by evidence.

There are three ways that you can be permitted to make therapeutic claims in your Trade Me listings (that includes Q&A sections):

  1. You’re a registered pharmacist selling general sale medicines on Trade Me; or

  2. Your ear candles are a Medsafe WAND database registered medical device; or

  3. You have substantiated evidence to prove that your therapeutic claim is truthful.

OK, I’m a registered pharmacist wanting to sell medicines and ear candles on Trade Me, what do I do?

Read our guidelines in place about selling medicines on Trade Me and get in touch.

We don’t allow medicines to be listed on the site unless by a registered pharmacist – this is to ensure that all medicines sold on Trade Me are legit and lawful.

Please note that obligations under the Medicines Act 1981 will still apply to the ear candles. If you want to make therapeutic claims in your listings then you will need to meet the same requirements as with any other therapeutic claims.

I’m not a registered pharmacist but I want to sell ear candles and make therapeutic claims in my listings because I’ve registered them on the WAND database, what do I do?


We just need some evidence that your ear candles are on the WAND database, such as a registration number. We strongly suggest that you include the WAND number in the body of your listing.

We will still require evidence that the therapeutic claims and the mechanism of their effect is substantiated.

This has gone in one ear and out the other!

I’m not a registered pharmacist and my ear candles aren’t on the WAND database but I want to make therapeutic claims, what do I do? 

Unfortunately, you’re in a bit of a sticky situation here. The only way you could make therapeutic claims in your listings is if you demonstrate that ear candling is a ‘method of treatment’.

In order to do this, you’d need to provide substantiated evidence of the truth of the therapeutic claim and that the mechanism of their effect (e.g. ear candling) is substantiated.

This should be done by clinical trials and include robust scientific evidence. The Association of New Zealand Advertisers has noted that it is unlikely that ear candling will meet the threshold for substantiation of therapeutic claims.

Given the reality of that requirement, general members wanting to sell ear candles probably shouldn’t make any claims.

Okay, so if I can’t make therapeutic claims in my Trade Me listings, what can I say?

The Therapeutic Advertising Pre-vetting Service has some great examples of what you can and can’t say. They recommend that you state something like this:

“Ear candling is used to soothe and comfort the ear canal.”

Be careful not to say things like:

  • “ear candling relieves pain”

  • “my Mother-in-law said ear candling fixed her migranes!”

  • “ear candles removes debris from the ear”

  • “ear candles remove earwax”

These all fall within the ambit of being restricted to either medicines, medical devices, or methods of treatment.

If you are ineligible to make therapeutic claims about your ear candles because you don’t fall into one of the exceptions, be careful not to include testimonials or anecdotal evidence that makes therapeutic claims, as this too would be in breach of the Therapeutic Advertising Pre-vetting Service and ANZA guidelines.

ANZA also recommend that sellers include a warning about ear candles, as there is a risk of hot wax burning, scalding or causing pain to users.

Making therapeutic claims about ear candles if you don’t meet one of the three sections may also result in you breaching the Medicines Act 1981. We don’t want anyone using Trade Me to inadvertently break the law, so if you have any questions, get in touch with us.

We’re all ears!

Congratulations! You have (not) won your very own Quality Voucher!

I bet when you woke up this morning you didn’t think you’d be lucky enough to win that auction for a ‘Quality Voucher HQ7520’.

Turns out, you’re not that lucky. Quality Vouchers are in short supply these days and (you guessed it) this is just another scammer, trying to freak you out and steal your credit card information.

If you’ve received an email this morning that looks like it’s from Trade Me, and has the subject line ‘Shopping cart purchase confirmation - order # C080810’, please delete it right away.

Here’s what it looks like:

Phish Blog 1

Please do NOT click on the links contained in the email. They may look like Trade Me, but they are not our URLs. Simply delete the email and commend yourself for being cyber safe.

We are working to have the sender’s site removed as soon as we can.

Action points:

If you have provided your credit card details via the fake site, you must call your bank right now. Explain the situation and they will cancel the card immediately.

If you believe you entered your Trade Me log in details into a phishing website, you will need to reset your Trade Me password immediately via your My Trade Me page. If you need help call please call us immediately on 0800 334 332 – keep in mind this number is only for emergency situations and not general enquiries.

As a security precaution, we recommend you run a full virus scan on your computer immediately. In case you don't already have security software to assist with this, you might like to check out this free tool.

If you use the same password elsewhere, it’s possible that your other online accounts may also be accessed. We strongly urge you secure these accounts by updating your password and any security questions as soon as possible (but call your bank first!).

If you'd like to know more about phishing, read our guide on how to protect yourself online from scams.

How Trade Me accesses the Police national firearms database


We’re making changes to our firearms categories

Recently, there has been a conversation going on about the sale of firearms in New Zealand.

You might not have known that firearms could be bought and sold on Trade Me. They can, but the process is subject to a number of restrictions.

As with anything being traded on the site, our goal is to provide a community where buyers and sellers can come together and trade firearms safely, knowing that we’ve got their back if anything should crop up along the way.

Of course, we’re constantly looking for ways to make things better, and we’ve been working hard behind the scenes with Police for some time to increase the safety of trades conducted through our firearms community.

Okay, so here’s the really cool part:

From September, we’ll have the ability to verify firearms licences entered on Trade Me via the Police national firearms database.

Currently, to bid, buy or ask a question on firearms or ammunition listings you must enter a firearms licence on Trade Me.

The changes will mean that you’ll have to enter your firearms licence number and the name on that licence. We’ll then check that licence against the Police firearms licence database to make sure that it’s legit, current, and matches the membership it’s being used on.

Police will give us a ‘Yes/No’ response, so we can establish whether the licence is valid and belongs to that member.

Trade Me will not have access to or receive any personal information from the Police firearms licence database.

If we get a ‘No’ back from Police, the transaction will not be allowed to proceed and you will need to get in touch with us to have a chat.

Here are a few useful points to get you started:

What information will Police get?

Trade Me will be operating an API to query the Police database with the license number, and the name on the licence.

Police will know that your licence has been entered into our system.

We’re not providing any information about the transaction or your Trade Me membership information.

We have a family account under my partner’s name – can I still buy firearms on that membership?

No. Your Trade Me membership will need to match the name on the firearms licence in order to use the firearms category. You’ll need to update the details on your account or create your own Trade Me account if you wish to bid, buy or ask questions on listings in firearms categories.

Does Trade Me have access to the Police’s database? Are you going to be looking up members with this?

Trade Me will not have access to or receive any personal information from the Police firearms licence database. We just have the ability to query names and licence numbers entered into our system to make sure they’re legitimate. This provides good protection for our buyers and sellers.

If I type the wrong thing in by mistake, will this get me trouble with the Police?

No, but you won’t be able to proceed with the transaction until you enter the correct licence number and name.  

Does this mean sellers don’t have to sight the firearms licence when they complete the trade?

The existing obligations still apply, and sellers must sight the firearms licence of the buyer, or receive written confirmation signed by Police, confirming the buyer holds a valid firearms licence.

We’re stoked that we’ve been able to increase the security of our firearms category. As always, if you have any questions about the upcoming changes please get in touch. We’re here 24/7 to help you out.

What does the Office of the Privacy Commissioner have to say about this?

The OPC has said "Trade Me will be verifying firearm licence details with Police for every firearm transaction on the auction site. This process is based on consent of all concerned and as such, raises no concerns under the Privacy Act."

They've also prepared a detailed FAQ on the matter

Updated 29 August 2018.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.