/ 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?


It might be useful to bookmark this Convo for future reference, in case they are in the same situation or could help others. There must be many people with a broken phone who are still making monthly payments. One point that should really be in this article is that companies are not responsible for faults caused by abuse, and phones are often get dropped.

All companies will refuse to pay out anything say it is not their responsibility if they believe they can avoid doing so It’s money that adds to the excessive profits so they do not want pay out unnecessary

This comment was removed at the request of the user

That contract was a ripoff from the start- i got an iphone 6 in february 2015 on a 2 year contract for £25 a month,no money upfront

Rosie says:
8 February 2018

hi vidafone are advertising a deal on line to me for £14.45 8gb, unlimited calls and texts but when I tried to confirm through their on line chat room they are telling me this is a website glitch and it should be £17 per month just wondering how they can say one thing and then not honour it?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Rosie says:
8 February 2018

all sorted they have honoured their website price

Well done. 🙂

ID MOBILE or to be ashamed for the way I have been treated from picking up the phone in carphone warehouse Doncaster. A catalogue of errors all the way from taking 11 days to port my number, they promised within 48 hours. I have tried several attempts to resololve the matter with ID Mobile but to no avail.
Please avoid this provider.
Trading Standards next and the Ombusman.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

What is a reasonable time for a warranty repair? I requested a warranty repair on a LG Nexus phone registered with LG two weeks ago. It has taken till today to get return instructions. I have bought a cheap Nokia phone to tide my wife and I over till the LG gets repaired. I confess to being very unimpressed with LG’s service. In the past I have had Nokia phones repaired under warranty, they collect them within a day or two.

Anyone trying to get a win win mobile phone contact resolved? O2 will not talk to us direct, can’t contact the company, bills have gone from £140 a month which we were expecting to £515!! For 9 lines

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Donna Cumbers says:
3 June 2018

Purchased an upgrade over the phone and agreed £9.95 surcharge for next day delivery. iPhone to arrive between 10am – 6pm Saturday. After calling an hour before final delivery slot was told the phone was due 48hrs later!! This was not what I was told or agreed too. After several more calls to ‘Customer Care’ and put through to Egypt!! Was told I couldn’t even go into a Vodaphone store to obtain a the phone as the “order was out for picking and takes up to 48 hrs to be cancelled”!!!! Terrible terrible service even after being told “I’m a valued long standing Customer”!!! In this day of 24 hour/365 delivery service from many many suppliers and competitors Vodaphone should be at the top of their game!!! I am now without a phone waiting for a call back that can take “up to 48 hrs” to action. I can understand why people are moving over to SIM only contracts as this is beyond shoddy and unacceptable.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I signed for an upgrade from mobiles.co.uk online sorted it all out. Next thing I know is I’m paying mobiles.co.uk £23 for according to them I signed for a New contract. Plus I’m paying EE £45 a month for my tablet and mobile phone which works out £22 for my tablet and £23 for my mobile phone tariff. When I complained to EE they spent about 45 minutes going through all this online asking me questions he then said that he had sorted the problem out and I only have to pay EE. Great sorted but apparently no it isn’t and I’m still having to pay both companies so I phoned mobiles.co.uk on their number on which is not the number to phone if you have a complaint you gotta pay to make a complaint about mobiles.co.uk. Anyway mobiles.co.uk have now said that I have to get a pay as you go phone from say 02 use that number then get a Pac code to give to EE or mobiles.co.uk for another Pac code just so I can just pay for EE. Talk about getting the run around. Being disabled and suffering from stress and anxiety disorder this is not good for my health. I am disgusted with mobiles.co.uk and their online website which cocked up. And disgusted with EE representative by trying to bully me into taking a phone on which I never ever wanted.

Trying to help a dear friend who is 83 years old and I believe has been missold a mobile phone package through local Vodafone shop. Took out a new contract Dec 2017 with a free upgrade to a Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016), she told them she only uses the internet to browse on Facebook and messaging. She’s ended up with a package including 32gb of data and her latest monthly bill is £54.06 ! That seems massively excessive in my opinion. Need to get this sorted for her ASAP.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Brenda, sorry to hear about this problem.

I agree that 32gb of data is an excessive monthly data allowance for basic access to Facebook and messaging.

I also agree that £54/month is far more than one should have to pay to meet those needs. For example, with good value pay as you go networks, one can get unlimited minutes each month plus 3GB data for £10/month.

I have an O2 contract that I have twice “rolled down” to keep its monthly cost below £10/month, but I don’t think I rolled the package down until after the first formal contract period of 12 months had ended.

£60/month is a fairly typical mobile phone bill for a fashion conscious young person to have, but it’s a daft amount to have to spend, if only a limited and simple service is needed.

You may have to help your friend read all the small print on her contract but it might also be worth revisiting the shop that sold the contract to complain about being oversold. It would probably be within their power to roll down the contract into a less expensive package, but they may think they have her “over a barrel” and so may take some persuading.

I have no particular experience of Voda, but I do know that when certain young people don’t manage to afford their £60 each month, they just get cut off until such times as they can. So I’m not sure what would happen if your friend just cancelled any direct debits and handed back the phone – probably nothing too much to worry about. (I think one of my brothers got away with doing that once, but it was within a few days of taking out the contract and I cannot remember who the unfortunate retailer was.)

As we learn through many experiences shared by Which?, many of those employed in retail sales are on very low basic wages backed up by sales commission incentives and are forced to work against very aggressive sales targets. So they all have plenty of reasons to talk up each and every sale.

Hi Brenda – It’s long past the 30 day cooling-off period during which your friend could have cancelled the contract (less any call charges used during the time). I expect that this is a two year contract because a phone was provided and at the monthly price it was probably provided ‘free’.

I think the best plan is to push Vodafone to change the contract on the basis of the age of your friend. In your friend’s position I would ask to pay the balance for the phone and move to either a pay as you go or a SIM-only package. I doubt that the company will allow you to do any negotiation but you could be there when she makes the call to prompt her if needed. You can call Vodafone free of charge on 191 to avoid the online chat that they are keen on. (I’m not sure why a phone company is reluctant to speak to their customers!)

Best of luck and please let us know what happens.

Brian Brydon says:
14 August 2018

I received s sim only card with Plus Net on the the 7th August and 7 days later still haven’t been connected as they say I must wait for a email. despite contacting them three times to cancel I am informed I cannot cancel until I receive this e-mail despite me having paid the first monthly rental and been sent a mobile number. Their terms and conditions state I can cancel under the 14 day cooling off period the day after I placed the original order, which was the 5th August.

Did an upgrade at Vodacom Clear Water
Quotation says Monthly charge R247.99 – Invoice from Vodacom R319.00
On the quote it clearly states reduced subscription discount – R80.71
Now I’m told that they did away with the discount – I have been up and down to the store they just don’t care – phone the call centre – there is nothing they can do as the package is loaded as R319.00
Is there any suggestions !!!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I have changed provider from Vodafone to sky mobile. I have been given a PAC code to keep same number & a PUK unlock code for my mobile which I am keeping. The unlock code does not work & sky have now sent me my 3rd sim card just in case it was problem.
I have spoken to Vodafone at least 6 times & still no resolution as well as visiting their nearest shop twice which is a 40mile round trip! Sky do not give out unlock codes as its not a sky phone. I’m beginning to loose the will now & it’s been 3 months now without a phone to use!

What should I do now?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

In October 2018 I phoned 3 Mobile and I advised them that I would not be renewing my contract which was coming to an end on the 3rd of December 2018. I explained that I needed to give notification in advance as I would be traveling overseas for a month. I was worried about the network connection when overseas as I might not be able to do so when traveling. I phoned 3 on the 14th and 28th of October as suggested by the rep. Holding the conversations with the reps was very challenging as the reps would not accept my notice but tried to convince me to continue with the contractor to buy other products, the conversations lasted more than 20 minutes, by the end of the conversations I felt harassed, stressed and had a massive headache.

When I returned on on the 6th of December I received a text message that said ‘upgrade now and we will cover the upfront cost …. before your contract ends 03.12.18’. The message was sent on the 6th of December 2018. I phoned 03 to query why my contract had been renewed against my advise. The rep acknowledged the notification received on the 28th of October. She went through the same routine line her previous colleagues, she became very argumentive and again tried to convince me to retain the contract or purchase other 3 mobile products. She said she was giving me 3 options. She started asking me personal questions about my future plans etc. I ask if she could send a PAC code. She said she will, but said she will only give it when my contract came to an end on the 3rd of January 2018. She said they would charge me for the whole month of December to January. I challenged that decision as I felt that I was not being treated fairly as I have already given advance notice in October. The lady would not justify her action again the conversation took more than 20 minutes. Leaving me both stressed, exhausted and feeling harassed.

I have made a complaint to 3 through resolve they acknowledged my complaint and promised to respond within 5 days. To date, I have not received any response from 3 mobile.

I have been a customer for 3 for more than four years and the reason I have left is that they have continued to charge me on my handset which was fully paid for a year ago. They have instead increased my tariff over the years. The staff is very difficult to communicate with. They are keen to sell products and hardly listen to any concerns raised.

I am not sure what other action to take in this regard.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I’ve just received a phone damaged in delivery, my brother signed for it using my name has I was working away, been to car phone warehouse today to exchange the phone and was told basically they won’t exchange phone because of this.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Leanne says:
11 March 2019

I upgraded in January and as part of my upgrade deal was offered a free 5gb data sim as part of the upgrade. I accepted. The first bill was wrong and I was charged for it. They removed the charge but now onto month 2 they’re charging for it again. Now they’re saying it shouldn’t have been offered. They can’t fulfill the sold contract and would like to take the 5gb SIM card offered away and compensate me £20! Are they having a laugh! Legally this can’t be right surely

I suggest contacting Citizens Advice, Leanne. In future, I suggest keeping copies of information about contracts and in the case of mobile phone companies, keeping any relevant text messages. I once asked Vodafone to put in writing what they said in a phone call. Recently, I asked my new home insurer to clarify in writing an ambiguous statement in their quotation document, which they have done.

Do you know if your upgrade was with your current provider at the time?

It is a few years since I had a contract, but on the anniversary of the renewal, a company would phone up pretending to be my current provider which was then o2. I think they said they were calling on behalf of o2, but on further questioning, were nothing to do with o2 and just trying to get me as a customer.

It would be have been very easy to get into an unintended contract with a different company especially as they were offering a ‘free’ phone.

On the 8th of April, we ordered a refurbished iPhone 6 for our daughter from Quick Mobile Fix. Today on the 6th of June, we still do not have the device or the money back.

We ordered the phone on the 8th of April, received a confirmation and then nothing. We checked with them again at the 22nd of April and finally received the phone. Unfortunately it did not work. I even took it to Apple to check what was going on and the Apple Genius Bar ran numerous tests and gave me a write up of their findings.

I forwarded it to QuickMobile Fix. They told me to send the phone back to them and we would get a replacement. Guess what… no replacement but an invoice for the repair. Again we contacted them but we only received another reminder to pay the repair. I then summarised all our e-mail exchanges from confirmation of order up to date, added the e-mail exchange on as proof and send everything off. Again a reminder to pay for the repair. I then tried to phone them. One time I was Nr. 41 in the queue! But strangely enough I managed to get through the next day when I was Nr 4 and only had to wait for 40 minutes. I explained everything, told the person (not sure if it was Jodie, Benas, Adam, Adina) everything again. This was on the 22nd of May and they were going to contact us within 24 hours.

Obviously nothing happened, followed up on the 27th, another delaying e-mail from Jodie on the 28th. I responded that I would not tolerate this any longer, another delaying e-mail this time from Benas on the 29th. On the 3rd of June we received yet another mail saying they would get back to us within 1 working day, but today is the 6th of June and nothing has happened. No end in sight. We have lost the money, spent hours chasing the fraudsters and wasted a lot of time. Our daughter after 2 months still has no phone and obviously will never receive one from them. Just wondered if you have had dealings with them and if there is any way of getting to them to at least get a refund


I’ve no experience of that firm and I am very sorry to hear all of the bother that you have suffered.

Which? provide a lot of useful advice here:


and for really difficult cases, there is always the option of subscribing to Which? Legal.

I recently chose to buy my girlfriend’s daughter a used iPhone as a birthday present. In my case, here in Gloucester, I found that used and/or reconditioned iPhones were readily available in many local shops. Hence I was able to choose a very nice one and check that it worked right there in the shop. (Even so the shop assured me that they would readily swap or refund it if we found any faults with it.)

Given the wide availability of used iPhone 6’s and the relative ease with which they can be repaired, see


I am astonished by your appalling treatment at the hands of so-called “Quick Mobile Fix”.

Hello Derek, thank you for the nice comment and the suggestion to use a local shop. I am in Bristol, therefore it should be possible to find a phone locally. I will follow your advise about the which consumer rights advice.

I excitedly ordered a phone via affordable mobiles who took 2.50 from my card, performed a credit check and then said they don’t even have it in stock and don’t know when they will. They still have the offer up advertised as if they do 2 days later on their site, I can’t apply anywhere else or my credit will nosedive and they have kept the £2.50 – for what I don’t know. This is theft and fraud. You cannot contact them via email and their telephone line doesn’t get answered. How is Ofcom allowing these rogue companies to operate – especially after the 1000’s of complaints made against them and the fake and phoney reviews they have on “trust pilot” (an Oxymoron if ever I saw one)

I entered a £47/month contract with no upfront cost with EE in a store – when I got home I realised I had been put on a £52 plan instead. I’m still waiting for the contract documents to be emailed to me. I phoned 150 straight away to resolve this and was told that 150 can’t help with store complaints and advised to go into store, which I did. Only to be told when I got there that a manager needs to be in to resolve this and they did not have one on duty! They agreed to call back the next they, then I was told I could either keep that plan or go on a £47 WITH UPFRONT COST! What a joke! They agreed to all us back the following they to find out what we had decided – they did and unfortunately we miss their only ONE call as I was working! Tried to call the store back about 60 times since and NO ONE picked up the phone! Back to 150 to escalate the complain yesterday, almost 2 hours on the phone to be told they would call us back today with an answer from the store as even 150 could not reach the store, the call never happened… so I phoned 150 again just now and I’ve been told to go back to store again! DISGUSTING COSTUMER SERVICE – AVOID AT ALL COST! I will be writing to the onbudsman!