Just occasionally you see things which are so definitely not a Fair Trading Act breach that you rather wish the trader was a bit more circumspect. The phrase “too much information” sprang to mind last week when I was in one of those great new cafes which have popped up in old wooden houses in Christchurch as it recovers from the February 22 earthquake.
I ordered my usual latte (am I a Jafa or what?) and lunch, and idly looked through the menu while waiting. I was surprised by the extensive list of coffees — far beyond what I am used to. Most of the additional coffees had what to me are exotic additives — various syrups, cream, other toppings, whipped cream — obviously cold weather stuff.
Then I came across a listing for a large mocha with whipped cream, marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles. Seriously. But no surprises here — it was called “Thunder Thighs” which is pretty well what you would get if you made it a regular tipple. Then there was “Racehorse” — a four-shot latte. I stayed with my one-a-day double-shot latte.
But the good news was that most of the people I met in Christchurch were in a positive frame of mind, looking forward to getting on with life in spite of the difficulties and uncertainties they have faced. This was assisted in part, I suspect, by the reopening of the Ballantynes store which looks so normal inside that it is a shock to walk out the door to be confronted with the red zone fences. I rewarded Ballantynes substantially — then had to carry all my loot home on the plane.
It’s been a hard year. As well as the earthquake, we had the Rugby World Cup which somewhat paralysed us — almost literally during the final which sorted us into the stoics who watched to the end, and the deserters — people like me who just had to go and find something else to do in the last 10 minutes. For the good of our blood pressure of course.
There was a financial cost too. As I sat in an almost full Eden Park for the Australia-Wales bronze final, I concluded that between $18 million and $20 million had been sucked out of the Auckland economy in one night in ticket prices alone. Sure, a healthy part of that would come from visitors who may have contributed in other ways, but the spectators mostly seemed to be locals. I’m sure there will be more post-mortems on the financial benefits, if any.
With the election silly season now out of the way, it’s time to look forward to next year. I think we can expect the Consumer Law Reform Bill to hit Parliament and be farmed out to select committee pretty early in the year, together with the announced reforms of the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003. Did I hear you say “but the CCCFA is only eight years old”? Yes, that’s right but even I think it could do with a few fixes. So once again I expect to be trekking to Wellington to present submissions on behalf of clients, usually focusing on the need to balance the rights of traders with those of consumers, and the consequences of failing to do so — the inevitable increased costs which are passed on to consumers. All good fun. Meanwhile, I hope all of you have a happy and safe holiday season. Do take care.
Rae Nield is a solicitor specialising in marketing law. This article is intended for general information, and should not be relied on as specific legal advice. You should consult a lawyer for advice relating to your own specific legal problems. Rae Nield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .