/ Money, Shopping, Technology

What’s my phone warranty really worth?

Cartoon of big phone and little man

Less than a year ago, I forked out for a brand new HTC One. Yet when I ran into a problem with it this weekend, T-Mobile told me it wasn’t covered by my warranty. But should the repairs have been covered?

After a run of serious problems with my last phone, I treated myself to an HTC One last June. And until this weekend, it had worked a treat.

However, when I went to charge my phone on Saturday night, I found that the charging cable wouldn’t fit into the port in my phone anymore. It was bizarre – the phone had barely been used, let alone dropped/shaken/damaged since the night before.

A call for help

I started to panic and called the T-Mobile customer helpline. The advisor I spoke to told me to look into the port for any obvious signs of blockage, but I couldn’t see anything. She then told me I would have to take it into a store to get fixed, and warned me that it wouldn’t be covered by my warranty.

In fact, she said that my warranty only covered issues with the phone’s software. Warranty or not, I knew I had rights against the retailer with the Supply of Goods and Services Act, so I headed into my local EE store and asked them to take a look. They offered to send it away to be fixed, but also warned it wouldn’t be free and that it could take up to 28 days. They couldn’t even give me a vague idea of the potential cost of getting it fixed.

Phone abuse

I argued with the sales assistant that I didn’t expect a £450 phone to be unusable within less than a year – particularly when I’d taken good care of it. He explained that he saw this issue a lot with phones, as people ‘rammed’ their cables into the delicate charging port. I argued that I’d been very careful with it.

In the end, I took the phone to a mobile phone stall in the shopping mall area. The very helpful gentleman there looked into the charging port and extracted a well-hidden piece of fluff and fixed it up for nothing (what a relief!).

Had my charging port been genuinely damaged, do you think that the potential repairs to my phone should have been covered by the warranty?

Comments
Profile photo of NFH
Member

Where goods are supplied as a standalone product, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 applies. However, where goods are supplied in conjunction with a service and particularly where payments for the service wholly or partially cover the cost of the goods (which sounds like the case here), the relevant legislation is Section 11N of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. Under Regulation 5(4)(k) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, if a retailer tells you that you have no rights after the expiry of a manufacturer’s warranty with the intention that you pay for repairs for which it is potentially liable, then the retailer is committing an offence under Regulation 9 punishable under Regulation 13 by a fine and/or up to two years’ imprisonment.

In answer to your final question about the warranty, I would say no – the repairs are not covered by the warranty, which is an additional time-limited contractual right in addition to your statutory rights. However, the repairs would be covered by your statutory rights as explained above.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

Sorry, I made a mistake in my second paragraph above. I misunderstood that the warranty had expired when it hadn’t. I would therefore say that the warranty should have covered it, but your statutory rights are stronger.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

You’re right NFH, since it’s on contract it’s the Supply of Goods and Services Act. We had a slight misunderstanding. Good spot! Thanks

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

As far as I can see the Goods and Services Act is amended 1994 and the “quality” requirement is the same as SoGA in that it includes “durability”. Ptresumably, therefore, if a “goods” is provided with a “service” there is still a requirement that it should last what an ordinary person would regard as a reasonable length of time. Therefore this should have been an obligation for T-Mobile to honour. Is this a correct interpretation?

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Removing a bit of fluff would, in principle,incur a charge if the phone was sent away to be “repaired” as it was not a phone fault – but I would hope it would be dealt with as a goodwill gesture.
If you buy a phone outright then I do not see why the Sale of Goods Act should not apply, and this, under “quality”, covers “durability”; the product should last without fault for what an ordinary person would regard as a reasonable length of time. Forget warranties – they are phrased by the manufacturer. It’s time SoGA legislation was promoted properly, and ” reasonable durability” times established for different products, so retailers clearly know they have obligations to meet under law. How long for a £450 phone? I’d say reasonable durability should be 5 years. What do others think? Time Which? got to grips with this problem that crops up time and again in conversations.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

A mobile phone is likely to be subject to more abuse than most consumer items since for many users it will be used throughout the day. I find it amazing that many users do not have any protection on the front of their smartphones. A drop could jar and damage the delicate innards of the phone.

We need a warranty that is fair to the customer, but also fair to the retailer and manufacturer. Phones often contain a tell tale to indicate if any water has got into the phone. I feel that the manufacturers’ ingenuity would be better spent on making their phones showerproof, given that it does occasionally rain in the UK. Smartphones generally contain an accelerometer and this might be useful in recording how much abuse a phone has received.

Some of these HTC phones support wireless (induction) charging, but I do not know if the port is needed for connection to anything other than a charger.

Profile photo of Martin Bostock
Member

Having has a similar run-around with an HTC that came with an Orange contract I separated phone and service when I ditched the Orange contract after EE started degrading the organisation.

I bought a Nokia Lumia, 24 month warranty, send or ‘walk in’ with service centres dotted around. Nearly a year old and a minor charging fault occured, booked a check / repair, took it in and new back fitted immediately and an apology that I’d been put to trouble.

I understand that this manufacturer service is available with contract phones also. If so I have no hesitation in recommending it . . . I know that phones are hard used and that most failures may result from that usage rather than component failure however I was really impressed by the service I received.

Profile photo of Martin Bostock
Member

Oh, forgot to say. In casual conversation with the service centre people (in Birmingham) they said that the Nokia set up was good for them as the cost of doing the job there and then was often less than the cost of getting authorisation, writing reports, sending phones around the country etc. etc. made me pleased to be using one and it has my favourite Windows OS!

Member
Stephen says:
3 May 2016

I have had four Nokia/Microsoft Lumia phones. Of these, three have developed faults within two years of my receipt of them. However, Nokia’s warranty only covered one of them. I had one through a mobile phone insurance, and, I discovered, was not covered by Nokia’s warranty when it failed between one and two years, and Carphone Warehouse, who supplied it, only had a one year warranty. The latest phone, a Lumia 930, failed after nine months from new. I bought it via an Amazon (UK) Marketplace reseller, and, when it failed, discovered that it was not covered by Nokia’s UK warranty. The reseller did send a return authorisation, but I had to pay postage to send the phone to the Netherlands, and, after two weeks have still not received it back, nor any progress update. Perhaps the murky world of phone warranties is something Which should investigate? I am not a happy bunny.

Member

Further on my last post – I contacted the seller to complain and was told that repairs took three or four weeks! As Nokia tend to repair within days, I don’t think that is very good. I shall not be using Red Hat again.