Vodafone initially reneged on its obligation to offer a replacement handset to a Which? member. So what should you do when a mobile phone manufacturer fails to fulfill its promise to customers?
Which? Legal member Robert Gregson took out a 24-month mobile phone contract, including minutes, data, text messages and a handset, with Vodafone on 2 August 2016. After four months, the handset stopped working. He returned it to a Vodafone store and two weeks later he received a replacement. This briefly worked, but then it performed an automatic software update, stopping the phone’s Bluetooth feature working, so Mr Gregson could no longer synchronise the handset with his car.
At the Vodafone store, Mr Gregson explained that he’d lost faith in the handset and that any replacement would probably have the same update problem. The store said that he would have to contact Vodafone directly. After weeks of calling and getting nowhere, Vodafone then only offered to replace the handset for a budget smartphone, not a premium one like his original phone, so he turned to Which? Legal for advice.
We explained that this was a ‘mixed contract’ for goods and services. Here, ‘goods’ referred to his phone and ‘services’ meant his minutes, text messages and data. Under the Consumer Rights Act, when goods are not of satisfactory quality or not fit for purpose, you can request repairs or a like-for-like replacement with the seller bearing any costs. If the remedy hasn’t been provided within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience, you can seek a price reduction.
Using our advice, Mr Gregson convinced Vodafone to replace the handset for an agreed model and he removed the software update option, finally leaving him with a working phone.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 requires that goods supplied on or after 1 October 2015 must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and match their description. If this is not the case, you can request a repair or a like-for-like replacement. If this happens within six months, it’s generally assumed that the problem was present at the time of sale. After six months, it’s up to you to prove this was the case.
The seller can choose whether to offer a repair or replacement, and it must do this within a reasonable time, without significant inconvenience to you and at its own cost.
This article by the Which? Legal team originally appeared in the July 2017 edition of Which? magazine.
Has your mobile phone ever broken down on you? Did you find it difficult to get a replacement? What did you do about it?