Misleading CGA Statement by Surpulstronics

, posted: 9-Aug-2012 23:17

Update: Rowan from Surplustronics has contacted me out-of-band to say that the statement on their website to which this blog post refers comes directly from his suppliers.  I have invited Rowan to comment publically here.  As it stands, the statement is still on his website.

So, idly looking at the Surplustronics (http://www.surplustronics.co.nz/) website and I stumbled upon this gem in the product details for a mains-direct soldering iron.


Under the heading "Note For Public buyers:"

"Firstly you need to know that if these are returned with a faulty element, then there is No Warranty. The elements are a Non-warrantable product and therefor, refunds / repairs or swaps will NOT be given."

Well I'm sorry Surplustronics but that statement right there, that's absolutely 100% against the law, on two fronts.

Firstly, under the Consumer Guarantees Act, you don't get to choose what you do and what you don't guarantee as to the quality and fit-for-purpose of your product.  That statement reads that if you buy the item, take it home, and find it has a faulty element that Surplustronics is going to tell you to take a hike!

Secondly, under the Fair Trading Act, you are blatantly misleading the consumer on their rights, you are telling them effectively that if the element is faulty (within a reasonable life time of the product) they don't have the right to return it for repair, replace or refund.  The CGA gives them that right, and you are (attempting) to mislead the public with regard that right!

Not on Surplustronics, not on at all.  You should know better than this sort of nonsense.

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Comment by raytaylor, on 10-Aug-2012 22:49

If they are the importer of the product, or more precisely the retailer, then they are responsible for providing the warranty - not the supplier.

If the agreement between the supplier and surplustronics states that the supplier wont refund or repair the product that surplustronics returns to them, it has nothing to do between surplustronics and the end user.

Comment by richms, on 11-Aug-2012 12:59

It could be worded a lot better, but those direct mains irons are renouned for burning out when abused. its more of a overheat prevention.

If you leave them plugged in and not used they will overheat - same as cheap hot glue guns since there is no thermal regulation beyond the PTC element which can only go so far to cut heat output when it is hot.

Even if the element was a spare part and available it is doubtful you would find anyone to swap it over and re-cert the device for less than the cost of a replacement iron.

These are tools, not appliances so IMO to expect unlimited warranty swapouts for them when they are abused and die is not reasonable.

Author's note by sleemanj, on 11-Aug-2012 18:30


Granted, mains-direct irons are pretty crappy things really (that said, I have a mains direct iron in my garage that I've used for years for odd bodges), but it doesn't absolve responsibilities under the consumer guarantees act.

The CGA doesn't mean a consumer can abuse a product and expect it to be fixed (see water damage in phone for example!) but it does mean that a product has to last a reasonable time of normal expected usage.  

What exactly a reasonable time is for a mains-direct iron (element) might be hard to guess, but a blanket "no warranty if the element fails" isn't the way to resolve it.  

Of course, this is an area where consumer law falls down in my view, because if it did come down to trying to get your rights under the CGA recognised, for a low value product it just doesn't work because of the non-claimable filing fees to go to the diputes tribunal.  

Comment by mattwnz, on 11-Aug-2012 20:33

Best to report them to the regulators, for them to see if what they are doing is correct. Its what we pay taxes for.

Comment by ComCom Advisor, on 13-Aug-2012 16:46

Hi guys.

You might like to read this fact sheet from the Commerce Commission on misleading claims for more information about this issue.
There is a complaints form on our website as well if you want to send us a complaint.



My name is Sarah and I am a Contact Centre Advisor at the Commerce Commission.

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James Sleeman
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