Disputes Tribunal case example

CourtKeys.com now includes a new Examples page. It contains examples of completed forms used in New Zealand courts and tribunals.

The first examples to be published are documents relating to a real case in the Disputes Tribunal. It concerns the failure of a Microsoft Surface tablet and a dispute concerning the applicability of the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993.

It was contended that the Surface tablet was not sufficiently durable because it completely failed within 2 years and 3 months of purchase. A remedy was required of the retailer that sold the tablet, but none was forthcoming. The retailer asserted that the Surface tablet failed 3 months after a warranty period expired, and did not engage with any claim concerning the Consumer Guarantees Act or provide a remedy. 

The matter was brought before the Disputes Tribunal and the claim upheld. A refund of the purchase price of the tablet and damages associated with the failure were ordered to be paid.

This case exemplifies why warranties are generally worthless to “consumers” as defined by the Consumer Guarantees Act in New Zealand. Retailers cannot escape the guarantees imposed by that Act except in specific circumstances that do not tend to apply to consumers who purchase things for their personal household or domestic use. Consequently, warranties do not tend to afford any additional protection to what is already provided by the Consumer Guarantees Act.

If you are a “consumer” and someone offers to sell you a warranty for a time that is shorter than you would expect a product to last for, then you might actually be being asked to pay extra for protection you would receive anyway. Similarly, if a personal possession breaks and a retailer denies it has to do anything about it because a warranty has expired, then that retailer could be wrong. That was the case in this example.