/ Home & Energy, Technology

Brief cases: faulty mobile phone

iphone 6

What are you rights when your mobile phone handset develops a fault while it’s still under warranty and you’re on a contract?

Which? Legal member Clare Bromell bought an iPhone 6 with a two-year O2 contract from Carphone Warehouse for her daughter in November 2015. She paid £60 upfront and then £38.88 monthly onwards.

In February 2017, the phone stopped working and Apple provided a report confirming it wouldn’t switch on. Mrs Bromell spoke to Carphone Warehouse and it said it would send the phone for ‘repair’ for £270. She gave the store the handset but said she didn’t intend to pay.

She then wrote to Carphone Warehouse’s chief executive, saying the phone should be repaired under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, but she was ignored.

The repairers returned the phone to the store in late February and confirmed Apple’s report. Carphone Warehouse said it could help no further, so Mrs Bromell turned to Which? Legal.

Our advice

We advised Mrs Bromell that O2 was liable under the contract taken out.

O2 said that she’d signed a joint contract and it was only responsible for the Sim and Carphone Warehouse for the handset.

She put in a formal complaint to O2, and the next day was called by its serious complaints department.  She was initially offered a one-month contract reduction, but eventually a replacement refurbished handset.

The law

With mobile phone contracts you’re buying both goods and services. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the goods should be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and match their description. If they are not, you have the right to reject the item within 30 days.

If that period has passed, you can get a repair or replacement, which must be done within a reasonable time at the trader’s cost.

In buying a mobile phone, different parties are often involved. Here, Apple was the manufacturer, Carphone Warehouse was the agent delivering the phone and O2 was the service provider.

If, like Mrs Bromell, you buy a service contract with a handset from a service provider, and pay a small fee then monthly payments, you should claim against the service provider.

If the firm won’t budge, you can reject the phone or request a price reduction, although the company can make a deduction reflecting the use that you’ve had.

You can escalate your complaint to the operator’s dispute resolution service, either the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) or Ombudsman Services Communications.

This article by the Which? Legal team originally appeared in the October 2017 edition of Which? magazine

Has your phone ever developed a faulty while you’re still tied into a contract? Did you  provider replace or repair it?

jjack blythe says:
29 July 2019

id carphonewarehouse willnot let me have my pac code to alow me ro keep my original mobile number

Janet Lewison says:
4 August 2019

O2 gave my data and details to a company called’ yourmobile’ without my permission who acted as if they are O2. and therefore I believed they were O2. They offered a contract that was business ( for my son who I pay for- not a businessman ) and failed to mention that there is no cooling-off period, contract last 3 years with ‘plan.ocm’ and vat would be added. When the contact arrived from ‘plan.com’ two days after the conversation I worried it was a scam and contacted O2 who said it was a fraud and I should go to my bank immediately. I did so, cancelled my card and then their fraud department told me the next day, not a fraud and so I complained and they then offered £ 50 for ‘ inconvenience’ and said an ‘internal’ review would be conducted. .
This is not good enough. I am now locked into a ‘contract’ with a company who have been less than transparent.
What can I do?

Many thanks, Janet

Hi Janet, sorry to hear these mongrels got the better of you.

I had a contract with o2 for a year or so until ‘sim-only’ was available. Apart from my very first phone, I have always owned my phones outright.

Just before the anniversary of the contract, I started getting contacted by a company who said they were o2 and told it was time to renew my contract. The contract included a brand new latest model phone. I asked the phone model so I could check up on it while I ‘thought about it’. The phone was one of the cheapest available.

I’m not sure what made me ask now, but the next time they called and said they were o2, I asked are you really o2 or another company? when the person admitted they were calling on behalf of o2. I got the name of their company and discovered they were actually nothing to do with o2, but just trying to steal their customers.

I would go back to your bank fraud department and tell them this company pretended to be o2 so it is definitely fraud. As you were already with o2, you had every reason to believe it really was o2 who arranged the new contract.

Not sure how you get out of the contract without losing your phone numbers though. Perhaps someone will have some better advice, but I would be tempted to start again with new phone numbers.

Mohan says:
5 September 2019

I am facing the mobile coverage issue at my home for voice and data,two or three times i have locked the complaint ,but no resolution except assurance, i have port out two times but no resolution by any of the operater, whereas i coutinue the pay the mobile bill, but whenever i fail to pay the bill in time for any reason, mobile company charges the delay fee, but no any response for their poor coverage .for voice call or data traffic,In this situation what shold i do.

Thats good legal advice Wavechange other than that ,as you say Mohan , no operator can give you good service then you could try some technical remedies but nothing is guaranteed.

Mohan, did you ask your selected provider whether you would get good coverage at your home, both indoors and out?
I have no experience of this but Ofcom have a checker – https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/mobile-coverage. Is it reliable? I would have linked to the Which? one but their map is “not currently available”.

Michael Sale says:
16 September 2019

I am with EE , for the past 6 months I have no signal at all in my house or anywhere within 200 yards , I went to the local EE shop and asked for a test, they said everything seems fine they reset my settings , and said it should be better but it is still no better, I need a phone so work can ring me , can anybody help

Perhaps you should try networks other than EE at your house, to see if any work.

Michael , as far as practical engineering help I am not allowed to ask for your home address to help you but there is a way round this as it depends on your mast location which just gives general location (area ) .
EE/BT use the same masts due to BT taking over EE but still leaving it independent so click on –
and check it out yourself , usually the case of a bad/no signal is signal blockage due to buildings/trees etc as masts radiate in a straight line .

Read Wavechange,s link above- 5th Sept.

If you can pick up a signal over 200 yards then it sounds like a blockage .
External aerials etc can be fitted to increase the signal but are not guaranteed.

Barbara Ostendorrff says:
24 September 2019

On May 6, 2019 i called to switch my cell service to Spectrum. I had a new I Phone 8 and it was released to be switched. I was told that in SC i could not bring my phone with me. EVEN though the adds continue to tout the other providers want to take your phone. I should have stopped right there. I let the smooth talking sales person sell me a phone just like the one i already had. I gave my debit card for initial set up cost. I was NEVER told or ask that future bills would be debited from that account. When i received the first bill notification by text on June 6 i called. Thus the start of MANY calls. I was told by a Supervisor ( after reviewing the recording of my initial call) the representative must have had a quota to make and was wrong in what she told me. I should have been able to bring my phone. I was told that representative would be reprimanded and re-trained. That did not make of for the $599.99 for the new phone i was sold nor did it explain or resolve that i DID NOT give permission to debit my account for future bills. I was told that was the ONLY way they set up mobile payments. Well i work for a bank and KNOW you have to have permission to set up a debit. NOW 4 plus months later, i have talked to numerous Supervisors and have been told on several occasions that not only did the initial representative give me incorrect information, subsequent supervisors made promised they could not keep on getting a resolution to the situation. Again, they listened to the recorded calls and apologized; but, that does not resolve my issue.

Thank you for contacting Which ? Conversations Barbara as an American asking about Spectrum a USA company that is not an ISP / actual telephone company but a company that provides services via others .
USA Law is obviously not UK Law but according to their adverts you have 60 days to cancel .
I have their T & C,s on display on another browser –
Sorry for the capitals as I took the T & C,s direct .
As the T & C,s are long I will provide a link-

So Barbara are you over the 60 day period ?–sorry Barbara just noticed you are over the 60 day period .

As regards the legal aspect ( not involving an attorney ) contact the FCC –
If the above T & C,s didn’t contain- –“includes a waiver of your right to bring a Class Action Claim” , as a UK member of US Class Action I would direct you there as well.

I realise this information is limited but I am able to provide more directly related to the USA in regards of actions by a US citizen.
Get back Barbara .

Barbara as you reside in SC contact-
Look down to SC Lawyers ,Attorneys- Non-fee Grievances where you can file a complaint .

Paul Dudley says:
17 October 2019

I have been a Vodafone customer for many years but have been recieving high increasing bills over the past 18 months so when my current mobile phone contract expired I decided not to upgrade but keep the phone which I have paid for in full and switch provider . I requested an unlock code for my Samsung S8 at the begining of September and was informed the unlock code required from Samsung would take approx 10 days. After 10 days I had received no code so contacted Vodafone only to have to go through the same process again and a further 10 day wait . I finally recieved a code by email 21 days after my initial request and after carefully following the instructions given, the code failed to work .I contacted Vodafone again and was told the phone now needed a mastercode from Samsung which would take a further 10 days . My new provider had sent a sim card with a 31 day expiry which has now expired so a second sim has had to be sent . I have called Vodafone again this morning and have now been asked to complete yet another PUK request form which is exactly what i have done 3 times now over a 4 week period . I have exhausted every line of communication with Vodafone using Online live chat , call centres , and all social media channels and am still no nearer unlocking a phone that I personally now own in order to switch provider.I have no doubt Vodafone will send a monthly bill for a service that I no longer want. Have now completely run out of ideas as to how to get the issue resolved as I am going round in endless circles with Vodafone…

While this isn’t the correct answer it is a way around Vodafone,s “delaying tactics ” Paul it is also handy for other users in the same boat as complaints about Vodaphone on this subject go back many years, its also free . I don’t see any problem with the website apart from a few trackers.

Paul Dudley says:
17 October 2019

Cheers Duncan , seems that Vodafones delay tactics seem quite common , cannot beleive I am still waiting for a code after 36 days on a handset I now actually own , it would be an easier process to contact NASA to ask to have a phone conversation with someone in the international space station than a phone conversation with Vodafone to ask for an unlock code 🙂

Mark says:
17 October 2019

i agree with Duncan. an online unlocking company such as the one highlighted can provide both the DEFREEZE and UNLOCK code on request. a DEFREEZE code for your Samsung will bypass the PUK screen allowing you to unlock the handset. this can all be done in 24 hours or less.

Hi Paul. Vodafone is a company I detest but for the time being I’m stuck with it because other networks don’t have good coverage where I live.

I bought my phone and have a SIM-only contract. For the past three years I have had Vodafone try to push up the monthly price or offer me extras I don’t want. I then ring for my PUK code, they ask me why I want to leave and then the price suddenly drops to about what it has been for the past 12 months, so I’m currently paying £12.75 for 5GB data and unlimited minutes/texts. The data allowance is locked and so are costly calls, so they never get an extra penny for me.

In your position I would try Duncan’s suggestion. Vodafone seem to want customers to use online chat but I ring them on 191. Best of luck.