How to end 3 problems with your mobile ‘phone (& get your money back)

 

I get so many requests for advice about mobile ‘phone contracts and communication companies generally. I do seriously believe that the communication companies are the worst for communication. So because of this, I thought it would be helpful to write a post about your rights when it comes to mobile ‘phones. You’re welcome.

Problem number 1 – ‘phone develops a fault

Your consumer rights are the same for when your mobile ‘phone develops a fault as any other product, but in my experience people are frequently getting fobbed off with lines such as “Send it back for repair” and “Contact manufacturer”.

If your ‘phone forms part of your mobile ‘phone contract, your claim would be against your mobile ‘phone service provider and you may be entitled to a free repair or replacement as part of your contract. Check the terms and conditions in your contract for what you are entitled. However, regardless of the contract you retain your rights under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 (for items/services purchased before 1st October 2015) or Consumer Rights Act 2015 (for items/services purchased on or after 1st October 2015) to goods that are satisfactory, fit for purpose and as described. Most companies in my experience will fight this and certainly after a year will say “tough” one way or another. Personally I believe that a ‘phone should last more than a year and I would be prepared to test this in court and set a precedent but unfortunately my phone of over two years hasn’t broken! But I’m ready and waiting to help if anyone wants to try it!

If you bought your ‘phone without any contract then your complaint is always against the retailer and not the manufacturer. You may have a guarantee with the ‘phone and after 6 months you might want to claim on this with the manufacturer, but go to the retailer first who might also contact the manufacturer directly for you.

Problem number 2 – network coverage

There are currently no rules regarding poor network coverage. Even if you move house, you are unlikely to be successful in cancelling a contract for poor network coverage if in the provider’s terms and conditions it allows for breaks in coverage. However under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 a service provider must provide the contracted service with reasonable care and skill. I would argue that the service was not being carried out with reasonable skill and care if they can’t give you any service! It was reported in the media that in 2009 Tom Prescott took Orange to the Small Claims Court and gained £500 plus free cancellation of his contract when he couldn’t get coverage on his 18 month contract. So threaten it and quote this case.

Problem number 3 – mis-sold contracts

It is extremely difficult to successfully complain about mis-sold contracts. That doesn’t mean you should not do it however! It is just that in my experience dealing with mis-selling of a contract was one of the most annoying and tedious complaints to deal with. The fob offs come thick and fast and I’m sure put many people off. I undertook a case for someone regarding this and it was a lot of work and a lot of emails to CEOs and in the end I won and got Ben out of the contract but I’m sure most people would have given up which is of course what the companies want.

Keep records of everything. If the company rings you around the time of the end of your contract make sure anything that they offer for a new one they also put in writing. Although you can request transcript of conversations, (under the Data Protection Act 1998) they are likely to charge for this and again it is time consuming.  If you agree a contract over the ‘phone remember that you have the 14 day cooling off period (Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013) in which you can cancel.

You also have other Acts of law at your disposal. The Misrepresentation Act 1967 and also the more recent Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. For a practice to be unfair under these rules, they must harm, or be likely to harm, the economic interests of the average consumer. Also The Consumer Rights Act 2015.

More on Mobile phone companies called out for overcharging loyal customers and how to challenge and gain redress.

Complaining and taking matters further

lap top on woman's knees phone in one hand

 

See All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers

 

 

 

 

1) Use these 20 Tips on how to complain effectively and especially www.ceoemail.com to get to the top, you’ll probably need it
2) Use the links to the Acts above and quote your rights from them
3) Threaten legal action if necessary and be prepared to see it through
4) The ombudsmen only cover mobile ‘phone services and not issues with the actual ‘phones. CISAS and Ombudsman Services Communications depending on which service your company is registered with.

Wherever possible complain see Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively.

See a great post on SkintDad’s website – 4 Ways to Stop Overpaying For Your Mobile Phone for ensuring that you are not paying too much for your mobile ‘phone.

 

Terms & Conditions The One Show

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

More information to come on broadband etc. in the following weeks. More tips, advice, details of law and template letters can also be found in the book GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively

 

 

 

 

How to use the Misrepresentation Act 1967

Misrepresentation Act 1967
Been mis-sold a contract? Use the Misrepresentation Act 1967

This is a much underused Law. (It doesn’t cover Scotland but Scottish Law is broadly similar). But as well as reading this post you should also see the more updated law Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (updated 2014). It protects the consumer from being mis-led or mis-sold goods or services. If you enter into a contract and purchase an item or service because you believed a statement (not an opinion) regarding it, then you can end the contract, get a refund and claim compensation. There are three types of Misrepresentation where a false statement was made:

Fraudulently – statement made by someone that they know is untrue, believe it is untrue or is made recklessly
Negligently – statement made carelessly or without reasonable grounds for believing its truth.
Innocently – statement made without fault

Fraudulent/negligent statements

If you entered a contract as a result of a fraudulent or negligent statement you can cancel the contract. You can also claim damages in most cases. These claims are on the basis of negligence or fraud. The person who made the misrepresentation has to disprove the negligence. So for example, if you book a holiday on the basis that it is a holiday where children are not allowed and find that when you arrive the place is overrun with children then this is a clear breach. I used the Act  as part of a complaint for a story regarding misrepresenting a holiday booking.

Innocent statements

This is considered to be when either party enters into a contract having reasonable grounds for believing that his or her false statement was true. The contract is usually just cancelled in this situation.

Under Section 2(2) Misrepresentation Act 1967 the court has the discretion to award damages instead of allowing you to end the contract if it deems it appropriate. It cannot award both, judged on nature of misrepresentation and losses suffered.

Limitations

If you chose to continue with the contract although you were aware of the misrepresentation you will not be able to end the contract or claim damages. For example if you booked a holiday knowing that the hotel described in the brochure was family friendly but you knew this was a mis-print due to other factors in the brochure or had had it pointed out to you and you proceeded with the booking you will have, in law, “affirmed” the contract.

You need to act quickly after discovering the misrepresentation. For example, if you have been sold a mobile ‘phone contract on the basis of receiving 500 free texts a month and you have continued to use the ‘phone for a few months before complaining about being charged for them a court may say that you should have complained the first month in which you were charged. All cases are different though and are assessed as such.

I quoted this Act in a case against NatWest and Sunmaster. Which category of statement do you think they fell into? Have you used this Act? Will you now you know about it?!

More recent Acts

People think of misrepresentation and think ah there’s a law about that. Yup this one. However, you now have more cover with more recent laws, so you should also see Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (updated 2014).

You are also covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if the item does not match the description, is not fit for purpose or of satisfactory quality.

 

More details on how to complain in the book, information, advice, laws and template letters How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!