Younger consumers more at risk, survey shows

Published: 27 July 2021

Did you know you do not need to have the original packaging with you when returning faulty goods? The 2020 New Zealand Consumer Survey (NZCS) shows young people aren’t as familiar with the laws designed to protect their basic consumer rights when purchasing as other New Zealanders.

Those aged 18-26 are less likely than average to be aware of consumer protection laws (91% compared to 94%), and 64% are more likely than average (54%) to report knowing “nothing or a little bit” about their consumer rights.

43% of respondents to the survey aged 18-26 have never heard of the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 (CCCFA), which protects consumers when borrowing money or buying on credit, compared to an average of 29%.

Mark Hollingsworth, National Manager, Consumer Protection at the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) says the findings show there’s an opportunity to improve young consumers’ knowledge so they can make well-informed purchase decisions and don’t unknowingly lose out if something goes wrong.

“It’s important young people know there are laws protecting them when purchasing products and services, including in credit transactions or when accessing finance,” says Mr Hollingsworth.

Young people have high rates of online purchasing, with nearly all 18-26 year olds (94%) purchasing something online in the last 6 months (compared to an average of 87%). However, knowledge of their consumer rights when shopping online is low — 73% report knowing nothing or a little bit - and they are also less likely than average to be concerned about the security of their payment and personal information online (55% compared to 64%).

“While buying online can be convenient, resolving problems when they do arise is a little trickier,” says Mr Hollingsworth. "We encourage young consumers to stay up to date with their rights online, including setting themselves up for safer shopping by implementing cyber security measures as recommended by our colleagues at CERT NZ."

Younger consumers reported awareness of consumer support organisations and dispute resolution services is also below average.

84% percent of 18-26 year olds are aware of at least one organisation that provides consumer support or advice, while 52% are aware of 3 or more (compared to averages of 95% and 71% respectively).

68% of 18-26 year olds are aware of at least one dispute resolution service and 14% are aware of 3 or more (compared to averages of 84% and 39% respectively).

Mark Hollingsworth notes this may explain why young people’s problems are being left unresolved. "It's important that young people know their options around seeking advice, and navigating the right pathway when there’s a genuine consumer issue. This will help them to transact more confidently."

The 2020 NZCS is the third survey in the series which enables reporting on emerging trends, including those focused on young people.

Key findings from the New Zealand Consumer surveys

New Zealanders can learn about their rights and how to resolve problems by visiting Consumer Protection website.

Visit the Consumer Protection website(external link)

MBIE media contact