Know your rights
When a carrier transports your possessions, they must comply with:
- the Carriage of Goods Act, which covers the carrier’s liability for loss or damage to all products while they are with the carrier
- the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), which covers any other losses if the carrier doesn’t carry out the transport service with reasonable skill or care.
Carriage of Goods Act
The Carriage of Goods Act applies to all carriers who transport goods by road, rail, sea or air within New Zealand. The Act does not cover mail services. When you organise freight or courier of products, if there’s loss or damage, you don’t have to prove its cause. You can be paid out under the Carriage of Goods Act, up to the maximum limits of liability.
All carriage contracts must be in writing. You and the carrier must discuss and agree on the terms of the contract. Their liability for loss or damage depends on the type of contract you choose. Choose from four types of carrier contracts:
- declared value risk – the carrier is liable for the amount stated in the contract
- owner's risk – you’re responsible for any loss or damage (unless it’s intentionally caused)
- declared terms – the carrier’s liability depends on particular agreed terms in the contract
- limited carrier’s risk – the carrier is liable for up to $2,000 per unit of goods.
A unit of items is each separate item given to the carrier (usually a box). The distinction is important because it defines the carrier’s liability – how much they have to pay you for any loss or damage to your goods.
If you don’t have a written contract, the products are at limited carrier’s risk.
The products must be picked up and delivered during the period of time or at the time you agreed. Carriers often exclude liability for delays, so make sure you read the contract carefully before you sign it.
You can't claim extra losses suffered as a result of the lost or damaged products from the carrier under the CGA.
Carriers aren’t liable for loss or damage directly resulting from:
- an inherent defect in the products
- products that weren’t properly prepared and packed
- a legal requirement that wasn’t met (like packing of dangerous goods)
- products that were taken from the carrier by legal process
- when the carrier was saving or trying to save life or property.
Get insurance cover when moving house, as loss or damage to your items may not be covered otherwise.
Consumer Guarantees Act
Under the CGA, you have rights:
- if the carrier provides faulty service
- for lost or damaged hand and checked-in luggage
- for lost or damaged delivered products
- for late delivery if a timeframe was agreed or if not for unreasonable delay if no timeframe agreed beforehand
- for intentional damage.
If the carrier or their employee intentionally damages or loses your goods, the person at fault must pay for loss or damage, up to the full value.
Read Faulty or unsatisfactory services for more information.
Hand and checked-in luggage
You’re responsible for hand luggage you keep with you during a trip. However, the carrier must compensate you if that luggage is lost or damaged through their carelessness. Checked luggage is treated the same as other transported goods.
Lost or damaged products or late delivery organised by a business
If you ordered products and the retailer arranged delivery, they are responsible for delivery under the CGA. Products must arrive in acceptable condition and on time. If the products arrive damaged, late, or not at all, talk to the supplier, not the carrier.