/ Technology

Ask Which? – What are my rights on returning my iPad?

iPad poster in shop window

You ask: I bought an iPad from my local Orange phone shop for £90 and agreed to pay £25 per month. I took it home, tried it out and then realised that the contract was for 24 months, which I wasn’t told about.

I phoned the shop the next day to tell them I wanted to return it, explaining that I wasn’t told about the 24-month contract.

I phoned Orange to ask if I could return the iPad and have even offered to give up my deposit which they, and the shop, refused.

Can you give me any advice on where I stand – shouldn’t I be entitled to a cooling off period?

Our telecommunications expert, Ceri Stanaway responds:

What a nightmare! It can completely take the enjoyment out of an exciting new purchase when you discover you haven’t been given the full facts before buying.

There are a couple of points in your query to address. First off, the cooling off period. You’re probably thinking of distance selling regulations, which give you a cooling off period following the purchase of goods and services ‘at a distance’ – such as online, by phone or by mail order.

Unfortunately, you have no legal rights to return unwanted goods or cancel services bought directly in store unless they are faulty – unless this is the case, any automatic rights you have are solely at the retailer’s discretion. Some mobile retailers, including Virgin Media and O2, choose to offer additional return rights – but unfortunately Orange is not one of them at present.

All that said, you may well be covered by a different type of protection since Orange clearly did not give you all the facts to make an informed decision before you purchased your iPad.

Mobile regulator Ofcom has strict rules against mobile service ‘misselling’ – which can comprise any case where a company either provides false information about a mobile product or service, or withholds key information. This can include not giving you the full story on minimum contract terms and penalties which might apply for cancelling early, so is an exact fit for your case. Their rules were put in place in relation to mobile phones, but I think companies would find it difficult to argue that the rules don’t apply to tablets too.

As with all telecoms complaints, the first step to get things sorted is to complain to the company. If the shop you bought your deal in won’t help, escalate it through the company’s official complaints procedure – in Orange’s case, the details are here.

If you get nowhere with the company, you can escalate your complaint to one of the telecoms dispute resolution services after eight weeks – either the Communications Ombudsman Services or the Communications & Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (Cisas). Every mobile operator must belong to one of these schemes (Orange belongs to Cisas).


If you take out a contract without asking about the length then the fault is yours. Accept this and put it down to experience.

If you have been misled about the length of the contract then you have a case. You would need evidence that you have been misled.

Mark says:
17 July 2011

Nightmare situation and I hope the guy gets their money back or is at least able to cancel the contract without having to pay it off. My gut tells me, though, that Orange will have the upper hand as I suspect a contract was not read properly but signed, and I doubt there will be evidence of misselling apart from the consumer’s own testimony.

However, as someone already a customer with Orange, hearing stories like this makes me think twice about signing up with them again at the end of my contract. I’m not sure I want to be giving a company my business when they are not willing to give their customers the benefit of the doubt.

If the store/company will not sort it out for you, then I’d name and shame them on facebook/twitter etc.
for example posting a tweet about it on twitter including the hashtag #orange will show up on everyone’s search for the company, warning others to check.

hasnt the law just been changed in regards to long mobile contracts?

Moneyclaims4u.com says:
17 July 2011

Alternatively for an expeditious positive result, we would send a letter of claim citing breach of implied terms and if after 14 days you have no joy, issue proceedings. Its what we do~successfully.

Suz says:
17 July 2011

With most companies if you had not used the item and it was in a completely unused and resalable condition they probably would have been more flexible. However I do tend to agree that if you have signed a contract without reading all the information then you are totally leaving yourself wide open. Businesses do have a right to protect themselves as well.