Companies customer service telecoms

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 Consumer Rights Act 2015  to goods that are satisfactory quality, match the description, last a reasonable length of time and are 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. In the end I won and got Ben out of the contract which I believe was mis-sold. 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.

Discussing terms and conditions your rights on The One Show

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

Further help with complaining about telecom providers

lap top on woman


See All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers





1) Use these 20 Tips on how to complain effectively and especially 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 in writing. 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.

More resources for help with complaining about phones and phone contracts and more

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


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!


101 Habits of an Effective complainer book cover with logo


101 Habits of an Effective Complainer provides you with more tips






The Complaining Cow logo download templates

Purchase downloadable templates to gain that redress simply and swiftly for various sectors.

Templates for complaining about utilities and Goods, services & delivery complaint templates








11 replies on “How to end 3 problems with your mobile ‘phone (& get your money back)”

Thank you for this, this is exactly what I need. I recently had O2 offer mean iPad for £24 a month, this was a great deal and since I already have phones with them, I took it up. I get the iPad and seems good. When I check my bank and notice £34 taken by O2, I think this is more than the few £ extra they said my first bill would be. So I contact O2 and find out my monthly bill is actually going to be£30.50. I’m over my cooling off period as I only recently just found out this bill price.

So should I take the steps you advise? As in no way do I want to be in a contract that I didn’t agree to. I agreed to £24not £30.

Your problem falls into point 3. Please read including the links and follow the advice above.

Great tips for when you might need to take further action. Not taking no for an answer is going to be the fastest way of getting results. Thanks for the advice.

Last year in December I got a SIM CARD contract from THREE G for £16 every months for twelve months. And the reason of that because I was promised a new phone after 3 months of being with them as a new customer. and sometimes I have been paying more than that if i use it on benefit numbers. In June my phone went off completely and visited West field 3 G office for upgrade my phone as a result of the contract.
I spoke to them and they told me to call their head office department which i did. Then and explain to them instead of listening me they told me if i need to upgrade my phone i have to pay £50 per months which is hard. Again I visited their Offices in West Field and explain the same issue. By that time the 2 people i saw agree to do it but when one of them went to see the manager” she said no. The only offer they may have is me to pay 2 different price for the phone £23 per months and Line £16 per months” I told her i can’t do that. After 3 weeks I get a new phone from different company with create for £12. Then cancelled my direct debt I call their customer service to inform them, but the man wasn’t happy and he told me to pay £83 Immediately or to keep paying the money until the contract finished even although I do not use the sim card. Am stressed as I am on low income straggling to meet my daily needs and I dint know what to do and am run out of ideas. PLEASE HELP

Please read the post above and the links in it. Also in particular see Tips. I would recommend that you get someone to look over your email when you complain to ensure that it easy to read and understand.

Hello I went instore for phone upgrade I was due, after awhile the guy told me I needed to pay for a tablet to get the data I wanted and that the data from.the tablet would go to my phone however £50 a month for a phone and tablet isunreasonable more so after the salesman didnt properly explain what the contract was fir or how long it would last I thought a year and it was finished,s there was anything I can do?

I agree with Complaining Cow that it beggars belief that companies whose core business is telecommunications seem unable to answer a simple telephone query properly. As far as I can see, call centre culture has made everyone miserable apart from a handful of money-grabbing shareholders: in general the customers hate them nearly as much as the people working in them. I accept that there are economies of scale to consider, but whatever happened to “the customer is king” or “the customer is always right”? These days as a customer you are often made to feel like a nuisance!

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