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If your business sells goods or services to consumers, you must abide by consumer law. This includes upholding consumer guarantees and not misleading or deceiving your customers. There are also specific disclosure requirements you must abide by. In particular, if you sell products with a relevant consumer information standard (CIS), then you must comply with the regulations set out in that standard. Otherwise, you could face fines or other legal consequences. This article will explain:

  • what consumer information standards are; and 
  • how your business can comply with each one if they apply to you.

What Are Consumer Information Standards?

The Fair Trading Act, which governs fair trading and sales practices, establishes that the government can set certain information standards concerning various goods or services. Businesses need to disclose the information set out in their relevant standard and comply with any other regulations it outlines. When the government sets a new standard, it must consult businesses and organisations likely to be affected and listen to their feedback. 

These consumer information regulations exist so that consumers can make informed decisions about certain kinds of goods, and so businesses are transparent about the products they sell. You are responsible for ensuring that your products comply with their relevant consumer information standard, and not doing so is illegal. 

These standards may cover:

  • the nature of disclosed information;
  • how you can get that information;
  • mandatory verification of the disclosed information; and
  • how you should disclose the relevant information.

Currently, there are five consumer information standards. These are standards covering:

  • care labelling;
  • country of origin labelling;
  • fibre content labelling;
  • used motor vehicles; and 
  • water efficiency labels.

Care Labelling

This standard requires that certain new fabric goods have a label detailing how your customers care for them. This covers most kinds of new textiles, including: 

  • clothing and household fabrics;
  • fabric furnishings;
  • suede and furs;  and
  • plastics and plastic-coated fabrics.

Certain kinds of textile goods are exempt from this standard, such as: 

  • footwear;
  • second-hand goods; and
  • dishcloths or similar.

When it does apply, this standard requires that you inform consumers about how they can wash and care for these products, using different words or symbols to represent certain activities.

For example, a label with a symbol of an iron and a cross over it would mean that consumers should not iron the textile product.

Country of Origin Labelling

All new clothing and footwear you manufacture or sell must have a label detailing their country of origin. It must be:

  • in English;
  • permanent; and
  • easy to see.

You should put this on a label on the physical product, as well as any packaging if consumers cannot see the product label on display.

For example, if you knit and sell beanies for your business in NZ, you need to include a tag on each beanie saying, “Made in New Zealand”.

You must make sure the clothing goods you sell meet this standard, even if you did not make the clothes yourself. Your manufacturer or supplier should ensure that they include the label when they make a product. However, you may be liable if they did not meet this requirement.

Fibre Content Labelling

Most new textile products that you sell need to include a label detailing their exact fibre content. Any fibre content label needs to be in English and easy to read. You can include percentages next to the type of fibre you use.

For example, a label on a hoodie you sell may say “80% cotton, 20% elastane”, or similar.

This standard does not apply to:

  • second-hand goods;
  • footwear and their materials;
  • consumer-selected or provided fabric;
  • belts or corsets; and
  • miscellaneous textile goods.

Used Motor Vehicles

If you sell used motor vehicles at your business, you need to ensure that each vehicle has a correct and complete Consumer Information Notice (CIN) when displaying them for sale. The CIN covers a wide range of information, including:

  • your name, address, and registration number as the trader;
  • vehicle make and model;
  • vehicle year;
  • engine capacity;
  • distance travelled;
  • any security interests; and 
  • other important details.

This CIN needs to be on an A4 white paper or card and easily readable from a prominent place on the vehicle. If you are selling online, you need to include it in the vehicle advertisement.

Water Efficiency Labels

When you sell certain kinds of water devices, you need to include a label detailing their water efficiency according to the NZ Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS). This label will give a rating to the product, indicating its water consumption and efficiency. This standard applies to new:

  • washing machines;
  • dishwashers;
  • lavatories;
  • showers;
  • taps; and
  • urinals.

Key Takeaways

You are responsible for ensuring that the products you sell comply with any relevant consumer information standards that apply to them. This applies even if you did not manufacture the product yourself. If you do not meet this requirement, you could face fines and other legal proceedings. If you would like more information or help to comply with consumer information standards, contact LegalVision’s regulatory and compliance lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are consumer information standards?

Consumer information standards are disclosure regulations the government sets on various consumer goods. Businesses who sell products with a consumer information standard must disclose certain information about those goods, and comply with other regulations.

Why are there consumer information standards?

Consumer information standards exist so that consumers can make informed decisions about the goods they buy, and can rest assured buying goods they know more about.

What do my clothes need to say on their tags?

If you sell clothing products, your tags will likely need to have information detailing how customers should care for those products. You will also need a country of origin tag (saying something like “Made in NZ”) and a fibre content label (e.g. 50% cotton, 30% polyester, 20% elastane or similar).

What is a water efficiency label?

A water efficiency label is a sign on certain kinds of water-based products (such as washing machines or showers) that indicates the water consumption of that product, and its efficiency.

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