/ 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

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.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

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”.

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.

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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.

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This comment was removed at the request of the user

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…

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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.

Dear Sirs. I purchased a refurbished mobile phone from musicmagpie in August of this year UPON arrival of the phone I realised that it wasn’t suitable for me , I emailed them and requested a returnes LABEL to enable me to return it and get a refund, they advised me that the returns LABEL had been sent. Well it had but unfortunately I couldn’t download load it to which I informed them many times .One of the team said don’t worry I’ll put it in the post but that didn’t arrive more content with them no worries we will send another one. Nothing arrived so I paid for the return myself through the post office. I advised Musicmagpie what I had done. Then I got a email saying that the phone was locked on iCloud we rectified this as requested. I have now had about 50/ 60 emails with so many excuses, they sent out a new phone, when was it returned they haven’t got it any more, when did I actually purchase it ,can we have a copy of the returns Receipt and the number. All the proof that was needed is with them .And now NOW 12th of November I’m still waiting for my refund and still sending emails. Please note that they do not have a telephone number every thing is email. Please can you help me Yours Sincerely DAVID T SCHOBS

EE sent a text today offering a deal. They just sent another saying the deal was sent in error. Do they still have to honour what they sent please?

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S piwer says:
25 November 2019

I am due for an up grade and have now foun out that I had a package I didn’t agree to how o I get my money back

I have been with 3 for years and recently noted that my adult content filter is on. I phoned them and was assured it would be changed, considering I’m 69 years of age. Not only did they not do so but now when entering my credit card details they claim they can’t confirm the details. Funny how they manage to take my money every month. Bunch of crooks.

Been with Vodafone for years, and recently discovered they have extended my contracts passed the agreed term so instead of a 24 month contract it works out more a 28 month contract

Darren says:
3 January 2020

I have z contract with a 3rd party on 02. Outs called a business contract
8m self employed and need to use the phone for work. I’m a delivery driver. Since I have had the phone I can not mark I have delivered the order or pick up orders why I’m on the phone. I drive on my scooter for long hours so when I make a delivery I need to cut the phone call to mark the delivery as delivered. So the problem is I can not be on my phone when I work . I use Bluetooth to my helmet. I should not have to cut my calls. If I am paying for a good service and I do not get what I’m paying for can I not get my contract with 02 finished? I never had one problem when I was with 3g

I have a contract with Plan.com through prestige mobile, originally I was with Sunny mobile who were brought out by Prestige I was supposed to be supplied with a handset I phone 8 and a second sim, sim arrived but no phone I’ve been paying £84 pm for the deal and each time I raise the issue Prestige say they can’t supply with the phone conversations I had with Sunny Mobile but have the contract for air time data and second sim (second sim has never been used as I don’t have the second phone) today I tried again to resolve the issue but got told we can reduce your bill to £59.99 pm for 36 months but no upgrade my six plus is an original 16 gig phone can somebody help me resolve this issue thanks

Mr C says:
23 January 2020

Prestige Telecom have totally ripped me off. Talk about dishonest –

bought a samsung a40 3 months ago 5 week ago it stopped working as it would not charge. Took it back to carphone warehouse who sent it away for repair. We were called a week later to collect it and were told it was fixed before we left the store we asked them to check it was charging. It would not and had not been fixed there were no notes in the store regarding the supposed repair.They sent it away again and 1 week later we are now told it has water damage and not covered in the guarantee, and there is now a note from the previous week to say they found moisture!!

Mr C says:
23 January 2020

Prestige called me to offer a “buy out” from my Vodafone contracts. They were given the figures directly by Vodafone – have never been paid. Ended up paying Vodafone and Plan – totally mislead, sales people dupe you deliberately

I have a Nokia 8 mobile phone contract with Virgin and this comes out as two payments of handset and monthly tariff of talk time. My mobile has started crashing, I have sent this away for repair with Virgin and I got a phone call four days latter saying that they have identified the problem with my phone but it cannot be repaired. They have offered me a replacement phone but are unable to offer me the same model or even the same manufacturer. Can I request my money back which I have paid for the phone as I don’t want an Sony or a Samsung phone what they have offered

Wendy Smith says:
1 March 2020

My husband has just changed our contract with EE. Two years off from retirement he repeatedly stated we wanted to lower our bill . We agreed a lower bill and the charming young lady told us we would get a FREE ipad. We signed and were suitably happy. Then came the bill. Huge and nothing free about the iPad . We have attempted to return it but told aggressively that it is all our fault, we knew about it and had signed up. This will be on of the most expensive iPads in history. Suggestions please.

I purchased an EE mobile phone, on a 24 month contract, through Carphone Warehouse . Two years later they were bombarding me with e-mails that I was eligible to an EE Upgrade with a new mobile phone. I took them up on the offer and the new phone duly arrived but with no instructions on what to do.
I contacted Carphone Warehouse and was told to telephone EE and request a “Triangular Port”.
When I spoke to EE they did not understand a “Triangular Port” and stated that Carphone Warehouse were not allowed to do upgrades on EE mobiles and they had actually set me up on a totally new contract.
When I returned to Carphone Warehouse I was told I needed to buy another sim from another supplier, other than EE, ask EE to port my number onto this sim then ask to port it again onto the new phone’s sim. I was never told this at anytime during the transaction to upgrade my EE phone.
To me this is NOT an Upgrade! It’s a NEW sale whilst my old contract continues to run.
Carphone Warehouse’s receipt clearly shows “EE Upgrade” but EE had no record of this transaction and had no knowledge, or record, of the sim supplied with the phone from Carphone Warehouse.
I re-contacted Carphone Warehouse, to cancel this new contract, they were reluctant to do so and tried to brow beat me into continuing with the new phone. Eventually they agreed to have the phone collected and the contract cancelled.
My question is “Should this practice of misleading customers into purchasing something that is not what they say?

Marion Bamford says:
9 September 2020

EE owe us over £500. We’ve paid 9 extra months, according to them it’s our fault because we didn’t respond to a text on 16/03/2020 asking us to update our address. I work in clinical research, in the situation we were in I didn’t consider EE having an up to date address was very important. This is the only communication we received about our contracts ending in November 2019. Today they’ve made an offer of just over £40.00. What a lovely joke!