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.

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.

Give a little to the right people

Trade Me is a community built on trust; we all send money to people we’ve never met, for goods we’ve never seen. Wanting to extend that trust to a fellow member of the community who appears to be in dire straits is only natural.

Sadly, there are individuals in this world who use the generosity and kind-heartedness of others to their advantage. You may have spotted a story in the news last year where Police charged a woman who received $15,000 from generous Kiwis for her fictitious cancer treatment. That’s a huge amount of money given in good-faith and taken with bad intentions.

While we haven’t heard of any scams like this attempted on our Message Board, when it comes to donation threads, we have no way of verifying the legitimacy of the cause. The last thing we want is for someone to become the victim of a scam and it’s for this reason we don’t allow donation threads to be posted.

If you’re in a generous mood, the best advice we can offer is to donate to a registered charity or someone you’ve met in person and know for sure is in need. Do your research and don’t feel guilty about saying no. Remember that reputable charities won’t pressure or intimidate you into parting with your cash. You can read more on charity scams on the Consumer Affairs website.

Rehoming Cats and Dogs on Trade Me

Over the last wee while we have been making incremental improvements to the way cat and dog listings are created on Trade Me as part of our Animal Welfare Policy.

As part of these improvements we have made a change to the category structure in both the Cats and Dogs categories. Instead of one category for each type of animal, members now have a choice of browsing for cats or dogs to buy, or cats or dogs to adopt.

The category changes don’t affect the way search works, so if you search for a for a Chihuahua, you will get results from both categories if you want.

The cats or dogs to buy categories are pretty much the same as the previous categories. The cats and dogs to adopt categories are a bit different and it’s worth us running through some of the details.

Cats and dogs to adopt

Up until now, if you had a dog to rehome you could list the animal on Trade Me for free and we would leave it up there until you indicated the animal was happily with a new owner. This was not the same for cats, where there was a small listing fee.

This worked well for individual owners who may need to rehome an individual pet on a one-off basis, but wasn’t so great for heaps of the organisations out there doing great work in the community to rescue and rehome cats and dogs.

The result of the changes we are making mean that there will now be a specific category purposed for people who want to rehome their cat or dog. It will be free to list an animal in this category if you meet the either or both of the following criteria:

  1. You do not charge anything for rehoming the animal – eg: it is free to a good home; or
  2. You are an approved organisation and the fee you are charging is reasonably necessary to recover the cost associated with finding the animal a new home.

Please note that if you are not an approved organisation you will not be able to charge any fee in exchange for rehoming your cat or dog.

Why are we insisting on organisations being approved?

The changes that Trade Me is introducing in the cats and dogs categories are focussed first and foremost on the welfare of animals. While there are a lot of well-meaning people out there who love animals, they are not necessarily all capable, suitable or resourced to rescue and rehome animals in significant numbers.

We also want to guard against commercial breeders taking advantage of free listings to sell animals they have bred.

Many welfare organisations incur significant costs in rescuing animals. The requirement that animals in the dogs or cats to adopt categories need to be listed for free would not be sustainable for these organisations due to the quantity of animals they care for prior to adoption.  We wanted to change the way we approach adoption listings so that approved rescue organisations can charge a reasonable fee to cover their costs (these costs could include medical expenses for the animal, de-sexing and microchipping), but still allow these listings to be advertised in the Adoption category at no cost to the rescue organisation.

To that end, we have published a whitelist of approved organisations. If an organisation is not on this list, it can still list an animal for free in the adoption category, however it will not be able to charge a fee for that animal, either in the listing, or when the buyer turns up to collect it. Trade Me will be actively be monitoring compliance in this area.

Who is an approved organisation and how do I apply?

To become an approved organisation, you will need to get in touch with Trade Me and show us the following:

  • Your status as a registered charity or local Government agency (like a pound);
  • Provide some background on your organisation;
  • Indicate how you structure the price you charge for rehoming and what this covers.

If you are interested in applying, flick us an email through your membership or email us at

To view a list of approved agencies click here.

Trade Me's 2015 Transparency Report

Like many NZ-based companies, we receive enquiries for information from NZ government agencies to assist them with their responsibilities to maintain the law.

We've put together our third 'Trade Me Transparency Report' to give insight into how we work with government agencies to help keep our website trusted and safe.

The Trade Me 2015 Transparency Report.

This transparency report details the number of enquiries from government agencies for information from us in the year from 1 July 2014 to 1 June 2015 as well as a whole lot of other detail we think you should know about.

You can also read our 2014 Transparency Report here and the 2013 Transpency report here if you're interested.

What to do if we ask you for a verification reference

Trade Me works hard to provide everyone with a safe and trusted marketplace – part of this is the fraud prevention service we run if you pay for something by credit card using the Pay Now feature.

If you’ve gone on a little spending spree with a credit card on the site, or bought something kind of expensive, you may get an email from us asking for a verification reference. This is a standard check we run to ensure that the credit card holder has authorised the transaction.

So how does it work, and what do you need to do?

Once a purchase has been made through Pay Now, the funds come off the card and into a holding account with Trade Me before we send it off to the seller. We’ll put a randomly generated, four-character, alphanumeric reference onto your credit card statement, followed by TRADE ME PAY NOW. It shows up in the purchase details for the transaction, like this: 



Some banks may cut some of the characters off (like the example above), so we’ve put the most important information, the verification code, first.

How does this protect me?

Naturally we take credit card fraud very seriously, and if we don’t quite have enough information to be sure that a transaction is authorised – for example if you’re a brand new member, or your mate Kev is buying something on your account – we may pause the payment and request that you provide the reference from your credit card statement. Someone who has stolen or found your card is unlikely to have access to your credit card statement, so when you’re able to provide us with the reference, this tells us that you are you.

At the same time, the seller will also get an email asking them to kindly hold off on releasing the goods while we check it out.

While this does add an extra step in the process, we feel the benefits of these checks are worth it. Think about it this way – imagine your card gets stolen and is used to buy the latest iPhone, or even if someone buys your iPhone with a stolen card. It’s a pretty unpleasant outcome either way.

Having a process like this enables us to provide a number of assurances to both buyers and sellers, over and above what are generally offered online.

 How do I get the reference?

Most of the time it’s as simple as logging on to your internet banking and having a look at your credit card statement. However, with some banks there may be a day or two before this information is displayed on your statement. If that’s the case, it’s best to contact the bank directly.

What if the bank doesn't know what I'm talking about, or can't see the reference?

This rarely happens but we do have a backup plan if it does. Ask the bank for the authorisation code. This is bank-speak for a six-digit code that’s hidden on every credit card transaction which we’ll also be able to use to verify the payment. The banker will be able to provide this code in any case, and will be impressed you speak their language so well.

You've asked for the reference - where do I put it?

Give it to us! You can pop it to us in an email, but the best way to do this is to give us a quick call – just use the number we sent in our email. Our Policing team work 24/7, so any time is good to call. If you’re up at 3am for a late-night snack and some casual internet banking and happen to spot the reference, we’ll be here to take your call.

If the reference or authorisation code match up with what we have in our system, we’ll put the transaction through right away and let the seller know that the items are all good to send out.

If we’re not able to contact you after a few days, we’ll refund the money back to the card used for the transaction. So even if you’re having trouble finding the reference, let us know! We can hold the payment for another few days until you retrieve it.

Do I have to do this everytime a new iPhone comes out?

It’s highly unlikely we will ask for this reference multiple times. If you’ve supplied it once, we probably won’t ask for it again. That said, keep an eye on your emails after a purchase, just in case we do get in touch again.

As usual, please contact us if you have any problems, concerns or queries – we’re always happy to help.