Lincolnshire Trading Standards received 245 complaints in 2016 from residents unhappy with their mobile phone.
Complaints ranged from faulty handsets and accessories, price plan/contractual disputes, repairs either not being carried out or delayed, unsuccessful repairs, mis-selling, delivery delays, and non-delivery of mobile phones.
Angela Kane, senior trading standards officer, said: “Many people experience problems with their mobile phone, and we advise people to stop using it and contact their operator or retailer, as soon as they know there is a problem.
“It’s important to know your rights and don’t delay trying to get a problem sorted, as it can affect what you’re entitled to.”
Under The Consumer Rights Act 2015, when consumers purchase a mobile phone from a trader, they are entitled to expect that the mobile phone is of satisfactory quality, fit for its intended use, and ‘as described’.
Consumers do not have the legal right to any remedy for problems caused by damaging or misusing the mobile phone, accidently or otherwise (such as dropping it down the toilet), or caused by them trying to repair the mobile phone themselves.
Where a mobile phone is faulty, consumers have the legal right to a remedy - which could be a refund, replacement or repair, reduction in the purchase price, or compensation for losses suffered.
The remedy will depend on the circumstances of each sale, such as how long the consumer has owned the mobile phone and any wear and tear.
The consumer is entitled to reject faulty goods and claim a full refund at any time up to 30 days after purchase or delivery.
After 30 days, or earlier if the consumer chooses, they are entitled to claim a replacement or repair instead.
If the trader’s first attempt at repair or replacement is not successful, the consumer can require some or all of their money back instead. Where the mobile phone is returned within the first six months, no deduction for use can be made, so a full refund would be due.
The law applies to second-hand (pre-owned) goods too, but ‘satisfactory quality’ would take into account the fact that the goods are not new.
If your mobile phone is part of your contract, your claim would be against your mobile phone service provider.
To achieve the best possible outcome, act quickly as a delay can sometimes affect what you are entitled to. Consider the following points when writing to the trader:
• for most contracts, but not all, the trader must give you certain important information, which includes after-sales information and details of any complaints-handling policy they may have. Check this before you complain
• if the trader does not provide after-sales information or details of a complaints-handling policy, you need to find out who to complain to. Check the trader’s website, the back of the receipt, the order form or the delivery note for details
• keep a copy of your letter / email
• if you receive an email acknowledgement of your complaint, keep it. If you receive a ‘read receipt’ for your emailed complaint or from the completed online contact form, store it for future reference
• quote relevant order numbers, reference numbers and invoice numbers to make it easier for the trader to connect your complaint to the transaction
• be specific and stick to the point. Genuine points of concern may get lost in a long, rambling email or letter
• quote dates or events and all the relevant circumstances surrounding your complaint
• quote The Consumer Rights Act 2015 and make it clear what you are legally entitled to
• be clear about what you want the trader to do to resolve your complaint
• give a reasonable time for the trader to respond to you (for example, 10 working days)
• be persistent and write a reminder letter or email if you do not get a reply to your first one
• copies of letters, emails and other documents are useful evidence if you refer your complaint to a trade association, Ofcom, use any other form of alternative dispute resolution or if you take action in court
• If the phone is within its guarantee period, check to see if the guarantee offers a refund for your particular fault.
If you get no response from the retailer or if it’s gone bust, you can take a claim to your credit card company, providing you paid for your phone by credit card in the first instance.
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act the credit card provider is jointly liable with the retailer. Write to your credit card provider outlining the fault with your phone and explain that you wish to reject your phone and get a refund.
For more consumer advice, visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards.