Trust & Safety Blog

Trade Me announces Code of Animal Welfare for Cats and Dog

We’ve announced the first in a range of measures to promote improved animal welfare when cats and dogs are listed on Trade Me. There are a few moving parts to this, but it will include a new Code of Animal Welfare, a listing cap for sellers which will come into effect on 23 July 2015 as well as some changes to the listing process which will be introduced over the coming weeks and months.

Drones - know the rules before you buy and fly

Red -drone -flying

At Trade Me we don’t like to hover over your shoulder and drone on about rules and regulations, but you may want to have a look at the new regulations for operating drones if you’re considering making a purchase. 

What’s changed?

On 1 August 2015, new regulations came into force surrounding the operation of drones, also known as remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and model aircraft. The rules also cover most other things you may want to launch into the air including rockets, balloons, kites, gyrogliders, parasails etc.

Before you purchase and operate a drone, please ensure you familiarise yourself with general aviation safety rules.

Once you’re sorted, you’ll also want to check out a couple of specific provisions regarding the operation of drones, located in Rule Part 101  and Rule Part 102  of the Civil Aviation Rules. To save you some time, we’ve grabbed the important bits for you below.

Rule Part 101

This part sets out key rules beyond the typical air safety requirements to follow when operating your drone:

  • You must always operate your drone safely, and take practicable steps to minimise hazards against people or property. You should know the airspace restrictions where you plan to fly your drone.
  • You must gain the consent of people you are flying over, as well as the consent of any property owners of the area. Though not explicitly in the CAA rules, you should keep an eye out for privacy expectations of people who may also be affected by your flight operation.
  • You can only fly during the daytime unless the flight is indoors or a shielded operation.
  • You need to be able to see your drone with your own eyes, in so you can avoid obstructions and bad weather conditions.
  • Always give way to crewed aircraft.
  • The maximum height you can fly is 120m above ground level.
  • You must keep your drone at least 4km away from any aerodrome and obtain permission from the controlling authority over any controlled airspace, special use airspace, or airspace that may be temporarily classified as one of these areas for a particular operation or event.
  • Your drone must be under 25kg, otherwise you’ll need permission as per Rule Part 102.
  • If your drone is between 15–25 kg, there’s an additional requirement that it is constructed or inspected by a person or body approved by the Director of Civil Aviation.
  • The drone must be approved and operated under approved authority.

There are exceptions to a few of these rules, which you can check out on the CAA links below.

Rule Part 102

This rule applies to you if you plan to operate outside the regulations of Rule Part 101. You can request special certification to operate your RPAS with approval from the CAA.

If you’d like more in-depth details on the new RPAS rules, please check out the CAA’s report. You can also download a PDF of the rules: Rule Part 101 and Rule Part 102.

Creative Commons image used courtesy Ted Eytan on Flickr. 

Trade Me’s Car Market Operator policy

There’s been a fair bit of discussion lately on whether car market operators (CMOs) are allowed or should be allowed to trade on Trade Me. We thought we would pen a post to cover off Trade Me’s position.

It’s Trade Me’s policy to not allow car market operators to create listings on behalf of, or for, private traders. This is to protect consumers from confusion about the nature of the sale and from potential fraud opportunities.

Here’s a bit of background information about our reasons for this policy.


When a CMO makes a listing to sell a privately owned vehicle, mixed messages can be sent to potential buyers.

An example of this confusion is when a Trade Me member selling cars appears to be ‘in trade’ or a registered Motor Vehicle Trader (MVT) by displaying a ‘dealer’ badge, but their listing uses wording like “this is a private sale” or “the seller is not in trade" or “the seller is not a Motor Vehicle Trader”. That wording is potentially confusing to buyers as the Fair Trading Act requires traders to identify themselves as ‘in trade’ or a ‘dealer’ if they are either or both of these things.

Offers by a CMO to pay cash for ‘trade ins’, or offers to arrange mechanical inspections, vehicle grooming, and insurance may also create an impression that the member advertising the vehicle is in the business of motor vehicle trading, potentially confusing prospective buyers.

This potential confusion can be increased by listings that feature Consumer Information Notices (CINs) that have been converted into a ‘Private Sale Notice’. Examples we’ve seen can look pretty much the same to the official CINs. CINs are designed to give important information to buyers, like whether there is a security interest  registered over the vehicle. This is an important area to avoid potential confusion, especially in case issues occur after the sale.

CMO legal definition

A CMO is defined in the Motor Vehicle Sales Act as a person or entity that carries on the business of providing premises, or a place for a market for the sale by other people of used motor vehicles. A CMO includes a person commonly referred to as a car fair operator or a display for sale operator. CMOs fitting the definition in the Act have an exemption from meeting the registration requirements of MVTs.

Where a CMO goes beyond the simple model of a CMO (such as by offering services in addition to providing a place, or venue, for the sale of the vehicle) then, arguably, the entity or person is no longer a CMO. The CMO may need to consider registering as a MVT, if they aren’t already.

The circumstances may vary for everyone, so we suggest any CMOs in this position take legal advice on this point.

Consumer protection

Identity of seller

Trade Me operates on the basis that the identity of the person selling the vehicle is disclosed to potential buyers (via their Trade Me username). This is to ensure both buyers and sellers meet their obligations and so that Trade Me can help with member disputes.

Where CMOs sell on behalf of clients (whether professional traders or private sellers), the trading identity of the seller is hidden from buyers and Trade Me, leaving the potential for trades to go wrong with no ability for buyers to contact the seller for a remedy.

A further risk is that third party MVTs (registered or off the grid) could use the service to hide behind a CMO’s identity, and by doing so avoid detection by Trade Me (this behaviour does occur on other memberships from time to time when the MVT is banned from using the site or it wants to appear as a private seller).

A MVT could also use the CMO mechanism to avoid their Motor Vehicle Sales Act obligation to register as a MVT and attempt to hide from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s enforcement teams.

Auction feedback

While CMOs provide a service to both buyers and sellers, the transaction is between the buyer and the seller. If a CMO were to list vehicles on behalf of private sellers, Trade Me is concerned that any Trade Me feedback on a transaction could only be placed on the CMO’s membership and will not accurately represent who has participated in a trade. Prospective buyers may also get a misinformed view of the character of the CMO account if the feedback is not a genuine reflection of transactions conducted by that member.

Contract risk

Where private sales are completed via auction, the contract is formed between the seller and buyer. If a successful auction was to occur between the CMO and the buyer, the actual owner of the vehicle is not formally a part of the transaction. This isn’t an ideal situation and leaves the buyer in a vulnerable position if something goes wrong.

Final points

Private sellers may create their own listings, even if the vehicle is available for inspection with a CMO

Trade Me members who use the services of CMOs are welcome to list their own vehicle and explain where the vehicle is displayed for inspection.

Motor Vehicle Traders and ‘on behalf’ sales

Registered MVTs may sell vehicles ‘on behalf’ of consumers but these should not be advertised as a ‘private sale’. This is because the MVT is effectively an agent of the seller and the Consumer Guarantees Act applies to the sale. In law, the sale is not by a ‘private’ seller as it is undertaken by an MVT.

For clarity, CMOs who are registered as MVTs may not sell vehicles in this manner, unless they’re selling the vehicle as a MVT. 

Where a MVT lists a vehicle on Trade Me on behalf of a private seller, no contracting out of the Consumer Guarantees Act can occur. This means statements such as “private sale, no warranty applies” or “private sale, as is where is” may not be made in the listing body.

If you’re keen to read more, The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has more on the responsibilities of MVT in this situation.

Don't get SMSished!

Smishing is the same fraudulent scam as phishing, but instead of delivering the scam by email, it’s sent straight to your smart phone by SMS (text message).

One of our awesome members popped us a copy of a recent smishing attempt:


This message appeared to come from a NZ cell phone number, but it had been spoofed. The message would’ve likely actually originated from one of the many free text messaging sites available online.

These sites make it easy to spoof the sender’s phone number, and this is why scammers using these services often encourage replies by email.

In this case, the scammer asked the recipient to click a dodgy link that took them to a fake Trade Me login page – a phishing site. This site looked very similar to a legitimate Trade Me login page but it featured another incorrect URL.

Mobile Login

If they’d tried to ‘log in’ their login details would have been deposited into the scammer’s lap, allowing the scammer access to the membership.

Our advice is to be very wary of links sent in text messages, especially from unknown numbers. Here's a guide on the kinds of scams to look out for.

You can help Trade Me out by letting us know if you have been sent a phishing email. We can get the phishing site shut down and prevent people from being caught by the scam. 

Please forward any phishing emails or details of fake Trade Me websites to

Trade Me purchase not turned up?

It’s a fact of life that things go missing. Your car keys, memories of days gone by, your car keys again – even though you’re sure you put them down just a moment ago. And although it’s rare, items sent in the post sometimes go missing too.

When things do go missing, members are often confused about what to do. This post is here to help both the buyer and the seller know what to do in the rare occurrence that something goes awry, and some hints and tips to help your trades result in that all important positive feedback.

Keep lines of communication open

Communication is often the golden rule in any kind of trade dispute. Sellers won’t know if something hasn’t arrived if you don’t let them know, just as a buyer may get impatient if they haven’t heard from the seller in over a week. Even if there isn’t much to update someone on, a cheerful hello and a note on how matters stand can go a long way.

Sellers, in all situations, please get in touch with the postal company you used to send the item. As you’ve formed the contract to get the item sent, you’re the only person who can follow this up. Contacting the post office may help get confirmation about what’s happened – and sometimes even get the postie to check behind the seats in their van and find that missing item.

Know what to do to resolve matters

At the end of the day, it’s the seller’s responsibility to ensure that an item gets to the buyer in the condition it was described. We know this might sound strange when you have little control over what happens to the item after it leaves you, but as the seller you create the contract with the shipping company. It’s the seller’s responsibility to make things right with the buyer, even though it’s not your fault the item didn’t arrive.

The most common ways to do this are by either getting a replacement item to the buyer or by issuing a refund. Remember the golden rule above – discuss matters and come to an agreement. This can help turn a poor trading experience into a great one, even if the outcome was not the ideal one.

Know your responsibilities, and rights

Sometimes this can trip up even experienced sellers – a seller cannot contract out of the responsibility to get an item to the buyer in the condition that it was described in. In a nutshell, even if you include a sentence in your listing that says “if you pick this option I take no responsibility for items lost in the post” it doesn’t remove your responsibility as a seller to make things right if a postage mishap occurs. These responsibilities aren’t Trade Me policy – they’re outlined in the Fair Trading Act and Consumer Guarantees Act so we recommend you familiarise yourself with them.

To protect yourself, please read the terms and conditions for the postal service that you use. Some couriers will refund the price on certain items if they go missing, some couriers will not follow up on matters if you’re sending valuables.

It’s a good idea to look into different postal companies, see what their resolution processes are, and keep in mind tracking or courier options – especially for higher value items. It doesn’t mean that your items won’t go missing (fingers crossed), but it does give a little bit of extra security, and in most cases extra options, for when things go wrong.

Know that we’re here to help

There are always times when having an extra ear to bounce things off is helpful. If you’re in a situation where the lines of communication are difficult to keep open, or you need someone to discuss the ways in which a matter can be resolved, please get in touch with Trade Me . Although we can’t stop items from going missing, we’ll do what we can to help get a trade resolved, and hopefully turn what might be a poor situation into a good outcome.

The deal with ‘imported as damaged’ vehicles on Trade Me

One of the key things vehicle buyers love is transparency. What’s the vehicle’s story? How many kilometres has it done? What’s the wear and tear like? What’s the year of actual manufacture? Has it been in a crash?

These things can be verified by a few simple checks. You can physically inspect the vehicle, do a MotorWeb check, and also check the CIN  (Consumer Information Notice) if the vehicle is being sold by a Motor Vehicle Trader (MVT).

One thing that isn’t always clear, is whether the vehicle was ‘imported as damaged’.  

So, what does ‘imported as damaged’ mean?

'Imported as damaged' is a declaration that MVTs must make if a vehicle they have imported has known issues with it. Before the vehicle can be driven on NZ roads, it must pass a roadworthiness test. Any damage that hasn’t been fixed needs to be repaired before the vehicle can be driven.

Damage doesn’t necessarily mean a vehicle has suffered an accident though, it could’ve been written off due to a variety of reasons, such as water or fire damage. If in doubt, you can check if a vehicle has come to the attention of the NZTA for being flood or fire damaged on the NZ Transport Agency website or check on MotorWeb.

If a Motor Vehicle Trader is selling a vehicle, they must prepare a CIN (Consumer Information Notice). It needs to be physically attached to the vehicle for sale, and if it’s being sold by auction on Trade Me, it needs to be a photo on the listing.

The CIN is there to provide the potential buyer with information about the vehicle and it has a section which indicates whether or not the vehicle has been imported as damaged.

The section of the CIN explains that:

“Land Transport New Zealand records whether or not imported used vehicles had any obvious structural damage or deterioration that was identified at the time of importation. However, the extent of the damage is not recorded. Any damage that may have occurred in New Zealand is also not recorded. You may wish to have a vehicle checked by a person with mechanical knowledge before you buy.”

How do I know if a vehicle has been imported as damaged?

If a vehicle has been imported as damaged, this will be outlined in the CIN that the Motor Vehicle Trader should have displayed on all vehicles being sold via auction or Buy Now.

We also encourage all MVTs to disclose whether a vehicle has been imported as damaged and or previously written off in the listing description.

In terms of Trade Me and how the law applies, the CIN is required only for auctions or listing with Buy Now, as it’s possible for someone to purchase a vehicle without viewing it first.

A classified listing means the vehicle cannot be purchased via the site (there is no auction or Buy Now function), so no CIN is required to be displayed on the listing.

In these situations we recommend members view and inspect the vehicle before arranging the purchase or at least get a MotorWeb check. The CIN should still be physically attached to the vehicle. 

Buyers should be wholly aware that vehicles can be written off and or repaired overseas and that this will not be recorded on the CIN Notice.

Traders, be careful how you describe the vehicle

If you’re selling a vehicle as a Motor Vehicle Trader, the Fair Trading Act will apply to you. This means representations of the vehicle’s history must be accurate. As an example, to suggest a vehicle is ‘brand new’ when it has been written off in Australia could well be a misleading representation.

To avoid any sticky situations, we recommend a vehicle’s history be accurately described in the listing description. It’s better to be overly thorough rather than leaving anything to chance.