New Zealand Embassy Seoul, South Korea

New Zealand Government Praises Korean Consumer Programme

Tourism and Commerce Regulators in New Zealand have praised MBC TV’s ‘Complain Zero Up’ programme for helping to ensure Korean tourists enjoy their visit to New Zealand.

The comments were made by Tourism New Zealand spokesman Chris Roberts and Commerce Commission Chairperson Dr Mark Berry who were responding to an investigation by journalists into the mis-sale of souvenirs by some tourist souvenir businesses.

The separate comments from Mr Roberts and Dr Berry can be read below.

Comments by Chris Roberts, General Manager for Corporate Affairs, Tourism NZ

The organisation responsible for promoting New Zealand as a visitor destination, Tourism New Zealand, has welcomed the investigation conducted by Complain Zero Up.

Spokesperson Chris Roberts says Tourism New Zealand does not want the unprincipled business practises of a few to damage the reputation of New Zealand.

“We want our Korean visitors to have a great experience –and we know that most of them do. There are many genuine retail outlets in New Zealand that can offer Korean visitors good quality and correctly labelled products. These will generally be found in the main shopping areas.  Tourists should be suspicious if they are taken to warehouses in industrial areas.  

“Visitors are also encouraged to book their trip with a reputable company and insist on selecting their own shops and doing your own shopping.”

Chris Roberts says Tourism New Zealand fully supports the efforts of the Commerce Commission and other authorities to drive dishonest operators out of the market.

Comments by Chairman of the New Zealand Commerce Commission, Dr Mark Berry

The New Zealand Commerce Commission has welcomed exposure by Korean TV show “Complain Zero Up” of potentially misleading behaviour by some tourist souvenir businesses. The Commission has taken the allegations very seriously.

The Commerce Commission is responsible for protecting consumers, including visitors from other countries, from misleading or deceptive conduct in trade. The Commission is established by law as an independent agency.

“New Zealand has strong laws for dealing with misrepresentation of goods and services. We investigate hundreds of such cases each year, and can achieve powerful penalties in the courts. Sometimes we are also able to get compensation for affected consumers,” Dr Mark Berry, Chairman of the Commerce Commission.

The Commission enforces the Fair Trading Act. The Fair Trading Act prohibits the use of false and misleading information in the promotion and sale of goods and services.

“When a retailer uses misleading techniques to lure consumers in, or to make a sale, they not only deceive the consumers, but also harm their competitors who are acting honestly. Consumers must be able to trust the information they are given. This is particularly important where claims cannot be easily verified by an ordinary consumer,” said Dr Berry

In 2011 the Commission investigated allegations of souvenirs being sold to tourists as being made in New Zealand when they are not.

“As a result of the investigation we have achieved convictions and penalties of $259,000 in relation to two companies. Six further companies, and some individuals, are yet to be sentenced by the courts.

In response to the information provided by ‘Complain Zero Up’ the Commission launched a further investigation and has today executed a search warrant on premises in Rotorua,” said Dr Berry.

That investigation is considering whether there has been misrepresentation of:

  • the source of some products
  • medicinal benefits of some products
  • claimed endorsement by a legitimate government agency.

You can read more about the Commerce Commission’s history of investigations and prosecutions in the tourist souvenir market in the following media releases.

http://www.comcom.govt.nz/media-releases/detail/2013/penalties-for-souvenir-companies-that-misled-tourists-with-untrue-claims/

http://www.comcom.govt.nz/fair-trading-media-releases/detail/2011/commission-executes-search-warrants-in-made-in-new-zealand-crackdown

http://www.comcom.govt.nz/fair-trading-media-releases/detail/2010/souvenir-company-fined-for-misleading-new-zealand-made-claims

http://www.comcom.govt.nz/fair-trading-media-releases/detail/2005/souvenircompanyanddirectorfinedato

The Commerce Commission also produces a handy guide to your rights as a consumer in New Zealand. It is available here.

http://www.comcom.govt.nz/buying-goods-and-services-in-new-zealand-know-your-rights/

Contact

Allanah Kalafatelis

Communications Manager

NZ Commerce Commission

Tel: +64(0)4 924 3708

Mob: +6421 225 4417

Allanah.kalafatelis@comcom.govt.nz

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