15 April 2024

Five garden bag businesses warned over ‘unsolicited’ bag services

Five garden bag brands have been warned by Commerce Commission for potentially creating the impression that customers were required to pay for additional garden bag services they did not request.

These businesses are: Gabco Garden Bags and Bins, The Garden Bag Company, Manukau Garden Bins, Clippa Garden Bags and Bins and Greenfingers Garden Bags.

Commerce Commission General Manager of Fair Trading, Vanessa Horne, says some customers were under the impression that a payment was expected, because when a spare garden bag was delivered to their home, the businesses stated an annual rental fee would apply unless the bag was returned before a certain date. 

'Unsolicited' garden bag
‘Unsolicited’ garden bag was a ‘violation of Fair Trading Act

“As the customers did not request the bag, or any additional services, the product was therefore ‘unsolicited’. It is illegal under the Fair Trading Act for any business to ask for payment or expect a customer to take any action to avoid a payment, on an unsolicited good or service.”

Twenty customer complaints followed garden bags being dropped off at customers’ homes with a letter (and in some cases an email) communicating that they were offered as a trial, in addition to their current green waste collection service. The communications referenced a $26 annual fee which would apply if they kept the bag after a certain date, and that if they did not want to keep the bag, the customers were advised to log in to their online account to book a removal. 

Customers should not be expected to pay for a good or service that they did not request, and the “brands have since reviewed their marketing material and internal sign-off processes to help ensure the conduct does not occur again,” Horne says.

Another 10 associated brands have also offered the ‘Spare Bag’ trial and Commerce Commission has provided subsequent compliance advice to them.

All brands that offered the ‘Spare Bag’ trial are owned by three related companies across new Zealand.

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