Consumer New Zealand says venues charging cancellation fees during the Covid-19 lockdown are on shaky legal ground.
The consumer watchdog says it's had a raft of complaints about people being stung with large fees for cancelling events such as weddings.
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Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson said in some cases large deposits of thousands of dollars, and up to 50 per cent of the fee have been paid to venues ahead of weddings, and the company has claimed this as a cancellation fee.
"Companies attempting to do this are on shaky ground ... they can't retain the deposit if they haven't actually provided any goods or services."
There have also been complaints that goods have been advertised online when companies don't have them in stock. Wilson said the practice is called "bait advertising", and is illegal.
"If the goods aren't available, the ads need to make that clear ... not buried in their fine print."
The question of fees for gym memberships or services unable to be used during lockdown had also cropped up, and Wilson said in these cases the fees should not be charged.