Media Releases

Commission releases consumer issues report

24 September 2015

The Commerce Commission have today released a report which identifies current issues and emerging risks that have the potential to affect markets or consumers.

Based on analysis of information from a wide range of sources, including the Commission’s own data as well as information from other government and community agencies, the Consumer Issues Report 2015 presents a picture of the issues concerning consumers in New Zealand.

Commission Chairman, Dr Mark Berry, said “The report examines the wider consumer environment looking at economic influences, the retail and consumer credit environments and the influence of technology. It then takes a detailed look at complaints received by the Commission, highlighting some interesting trends such as online trading generates 33% of Fair Trading complaints, twice the level generated by physical stores, and 25% of our Fair Trading Act complaints relate to just 24 traders. Using both the environmental information and the complaints data the report then identifies current issues and emerging risks.”

“The report is driven by consumer data and is designed to provide a picture of the issues concerning consumers in New Zealand. The Commission has used the report to inform our business planning which identified a number of key priority areas for the Commission over the next year.”

“Like all regulators, we do not have unlimited resources, so we must focus our efforts where we can have maximum impact. By identifying the areas of greatest risk to consumers, we can prioritise and target our resources to greater effect, taking the cases that are likely to have the greatest impact for consumers and more meaning for businesses,” Dr Berry said.

“Planning is already underway for the 2016 report and it will continue to be used to inform our work programme. We are grateful for the support of the community and government agencies that contributed to this report and we hope to add additional agencies as contributors for next year’s report,” Dr Berry said.

The full report and complaints infographic can be found on the Commission website.

Background

When did the Commission first produce a Consumer Issues Report?

The Commission produced the first Consumer Issues Report in 2014 solely as an internal document to inform internal planning by identifying issues that may affect markets or consumers, or provide opportunities for protecting consumers and promoting competition. After completing the first report, the Commission considered the benefit to others if the information was to be shared publicly and made the commitment to provide a public report in future years. The 2014 report was released under the Official Information Act and is available on the Commission’s website.

What trends did the complaints data highlight in the 2015 report?

Complaints received by the Commission are looked at in-depth in the report, highlighting some interesting trends: 

  • Online trading generates 33% of Fair Trading complaints, twice the level generated by purchases made in physical stores
  • Telecommunication providers and domestic appliance retailers continue to generate the most complaints 
  • 25% of Fair Trading complaints were related to just 24 traders 
  • Motor vehicle credit contracts generate 30% of credit complaints 
  • Finance companies are the most complained about lenders, followed by mobile traders 
  • Industry associations featured frequently in cartel cases
     

What issues and risks are identified in the 2015 report?

The report identifies 93 current issues and emerging risks to consumers and markets, with the likelihood and detriment of each issue and risk assessed to determine a harm score. Those identified as having a very high harm score and as such having the greatest potential impact to consumers are: 

  • Lenders charging unreasonable fees
  • The mobile trader business model
    Disproportionate number of complaints generated by a small number of traders (in particular the telecommunications and domestic appliance retail industries)
  • Issues that affect vulnerable consumers
  • Participation in industry associations enabling anticompetitive conduct
  • Misrepresentation of country of origin labelling
  • Supermarket misrepresentations